Suicide Prevention Week calls attention to this preventable epidemic that takes, on average, 129 people per day and the World Health Organization reports nearly 800,000 people die each year globally.
But it doesn't have to.
If we educate ourselves and others about the signs to look for and ways to prevent it, we can decrease the number of those affected each day.
Signs Someone Feels Suicidal
While not everyone will exhibit these signs, they are likely to exhibit at least some. It is also possible for someone to feel suicidal while exuding a happy attitude and disposition.
Statistics show that suicide rates for males over age 65 females aged 45 to 54 were highest. There are also certain attributes that might predispose someone to consider suicide such as:
- Those who had a friend or family member commit suicide.
- Individuals with substance abuse problems.
- Those who have attempted suicide in the past.
- People who experience long-term, chronic pain.
- People who have experienced physical, mental, and/or sexual abuse.
- Individuals with certain mental health problems.
If you or someone you love has experienced any of these things, be mindful about other symptoms that might signify suicidal thoughts:
- Sudden calm or upturn in mood
- Preparing or threatening to commit suicide
- Changes in appearance
- Changes in personality
If they have recently experienced a significant change in their life, such as the loss of someone special or a career, or a humiliating event, it could contribute to the suicidal feelings.
If you are concerned that someone you care about is having suicidal thoughts, there are things you can do to prevent it from happening. It may feel scary to you, but if you know how to proceed in the situation, you could very well save someone's life.
People who are considering suicide are most commonly very depressed. If you notice they are acting differently than their usual self, ask them if they are okay.
If you point out a specific behavior that you're seeing that concerns you, they will realize you really do care and have been paying attention.
For example, asking if they are okay won't be as effective as a more specific statement like, "I noticed you've been keeping to yourself a lot lately. I'm worried about you."
Ask Them Directly
Contrary to myths, when someone is asked directly if they are thinking of suicide, it does not encourage them to do so. Come from a place of compassion, and ask calmly if they are having suicidal thoughts.
Determine If They Have A Plan
If they admit they feel suicidal, ask if they have a plan on how to do it. This helps you determine the level of severity. Those without a plan are a little less risky than those with a specific plan, in which case you would need to contact a professional as soon as possible.
Stay With Them
Never leave someone alone who you believe is contemplating suicide. Rather, take them with you or stay with them where they are. You can also incorporate the help of family or friends to make sure the person is not left alone.
When staying with them, be sure to listen to them calmly and openly. Often, we only need to feel heard and you could be completely shifting that person's mindset, just by giving them your time and attention.
Offer To Help
Eventually, they will need to get professional help and you can help them achieve that by offering to call a local crisis line or taking them to see someone more qualified.
Suicide is a devastating event for the people left behind, but a suicidal person does not understand this. That's why it's important to know the signs and tips to prevent it. Educating ourselves this way, is a global step towards suicide prevention.