This is not going to be a fun blog. Or even a beauty blog. This is going to be for remembering my friend who died this very day last year. I know it’s been a year and many will say “get over it”. But grief doesn’t work that way. When Hannah killed herself she killed part of everyone who knew her. I guess she just didn’t realize how special she was to all of us, and now she’ll never know. I’m dedicating this to her now.
I’m sending out a message to all of you: suicide is preventable. If you know the signs and you know what to do you can prevent the death of someone you love.
I’ve become quite familiar with these since Hannah died, because I made a vow to myself to never allow it to happen to any of my friends again.
If your loved one has a mental disorder such as chronic depression, antisocial personality, alcohol abuse or dependence, schizophrenia or any thing that has had a major impact on their life and well-being, their chances of suicide are relatively higher than a mentally healthy person. People think that this is obvious and that of course there taking medications to prevent such feelings that provoke thoughts of suicide. The fact is, however that these people are taking medications to help their illness, not it’s side effects.
If there has been a previous suicide attempt, you can bet on there being another. Just because there has been an attempt and people are aware of the problem doesn’t mean anything. Sure the person is getting help, but I’ve taken those anti-depressant pills. They have so many side effects that after a while I didn’t feel as if they were worth it anymore and stopped taking them. Luckily I didn’t revert into old habits. Others are not as lucky. They see themselves gaining weight, loosing friends, changes, and they decide the no longer want to take them. Some people never even start taking them for fear of the changes they can cause. So just because people are aware of the problem doesn’t mean the problem is solved.
If there has been a family history of suicide, attempted or completed, there is probably a risk of suicide occurring. This may be due to something in the brain, or simply stress or grief from the knowledge and impact of the death of a loved one.
If there is a serious medical condition and/or pain, the victim might just end it to be rid of it, especially if it’s chronic.
A highly stressful life event such as losing someone close, financial loss, or trouble with the law can also lead to thoughts and completion of suicide. Prolonged stress due to adversities such as unemployment, serious relationship conflict, harassment or bullying have huge roles. Hannah was openly lesbian, and I’m sure she will still get lots of hate for it, but that’s what she was and she wasn’t about to change it. She was constantly harassed by people who thought that she was evil for liking the same sex as herself. To me it didn’t matter. She was a person with a brilliant personality and a huge capacity for love. Still, people never look beyond something they don’t agree with to find the real, true beauty within.
Exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide can lead to suicide. The extreme pain you feel has to be put out somehow, and no matter what you try it won’t go away.
Allowing access to lethal methods of suicide during a time of increased risk is just asking for something bad to happen.
Again, though, it is important to remember that these factors do not usually increase suicide risk for people who are not already vulnerable because of a preexisting mental disorder or other major risk factors. Exposure to extreme or prolonged environmental stress, however, can lead to depression, anxiety, and other disorders that in turn, can increase risk for suicide.
Protective factors for suicide are characteristics or conditions that may help to decrease a person’s suicide risk. While these factors do not eliminate the possibility of suicide, especially in someone with risk factors, they may help to reduce that risk. Protective factors for suicide have not been studied as thoroughly as risk factors, so less is known about them.
- Receiving effective mental health care
- Positive connections to family, peers, community, and social institutions such as marriage and religion that foster resilience
- The skills and ability to solve problems
Protective factors may reduce suicide risk by helping people cope with negative life events, even when those events continue over a period of time. The ability to cope or solve problems reduces the chance that a person will become overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious. Protective factors do not entirely remove risk, however, especially when there is a personal or family history of depression or other mental disorders.
In contrast to longer term risk and protective factors, warning signs are indicators of more acute suicide risk.
Thinking about heart disease helps to make this clear. Risk factors for heart disease include smoking, obesity, and high cholesterol. Having these factors does not mean that someone is having a heart attack right now, but rather that there is an increased chance that they will have heart attack at some time. Warning signs of a heart attack are chest pain, shortness of breath, and nausea. These signs mean that the person may be having a heart attack right now and needs immediate help.
As with heart attacks, people who die by suicide usually show some indication of immediate risk before their deaths. Recognizing the warning signs for suicide can help us to intervene to save a life.
A person who is thinking about suicide may say so directly: “I’m going to kill myself.” More commonly, they may say something more indirect: “I just want the pain to end,” or “I can’t see any way out.”
Most of the time, people who kill themselves show one or more of these warning signs before they take action:
Talking about wanting to kill themselves, or saying they wish they were dead
Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as hoarding medicine or buying a gun
Talking about a specific suicide plan
Feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
Feeling trapped, desperate, or needing to escape from an intolerable situation
Having the feeling of being a burden to others
Having intense anxiety and/or panic attacks
Losing interest in things, or losing the ability to experience pleasure
Becoming socially isolated and withdrawn from friends, family, and others
Acting irritable or agitated
Showing rage, or talking about seeking revenge for being victimized or rejected, whether or not the situations the person describes seem real
Individuals who show such behaviors should be evaluated for possible suicide risk by a medical doctor or mental health professional.
What To Do When You Suspect Someone May Be at Risk for Suicide
Take it Seriously
50% to 75% of all people who attempt suicide tell someone about their intention.
If someone you know shows the warning signs above, the time to act is now.
Begin by telling the suicidal person you are concerned about them.
Tell them specifically what they have said or done that makes you feel concerned about suicide.
Don’t be afraid to ask whether the person is considering suicide, and whether they have a particular plan or method in mind. These questions will not push them toward suicide if they were not considering it.
Ask if they are seeing a clinician or are taking medication so the treating person can be contacted.
Do not try to argue someone out of suicide. Instead, let them know that you care, that they are not alone and that they can get help. Avoid pleading and preaching to them with statements such as, “You have so much to live for,” or “Your suicide will hurt your family.”
Encourage Professional Help
Actively encourage the person to see a physician or mental health professional immediately.
People considering suicide often believe they cannot be helped. If you can, assist them to identify a professional and schedule an appointment. If they will let you, go to the appointment with them.
If the person is threatening, talking about, or making specific plans for suicide, this is a crisis requiring immediate attention. Do not leave the person alone.
Remove any firearms, drugs, or sharp objects that could be used for suicide from the area.
Take the person to a walk-in clinic at a psychiatric hospital or a hospital emergency room.
If these options are not available, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for assistance.
Follow-Up on Treatment
Still skeptical that they can be helped, the suicidal person may need your support to continue with treatment after the first session.
If medication is prescribed, support the person to take it exactly as prescribed. Be aware of possible side effects, and notify the person who prescribed the medicine if the suicidal person seems to be getting worse, or resists taking the medicine. The doctor can often adjust the medications or dosage to work better for them.
Help the person understand that it may take time and persistence to find the right medication and the right therapist. Offer your encouragement and support throughout the process, until the suicidal crisis has passed.
In an Emergency, Contact:
—Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
—Psychiatric hospital walk-in clinic
—Hospital emergency room
—Urgent care center/clinic
If you need help at any time contact any of the places above.
For more information visit: http://www.afsp.org