10th of September is recognised world over as World Suicide Prevention Day.
Suicide is one of the biggest killers of people aged between 16 and 44 years. More people die committing suicide than in motor vehicle accidents [Source]. In 2009, more than 2000 people died due to committing suicide here in Australia [Source]. More men successfully commit suicide than women because men tend to use more lethal means [Source].
On this day, I’d like to do my bit by encouraging people to do the following:
Talk about suicide: It is a myth that asking someone if they are suicidal will “give them ideas” and hence it is “better to not talk about it”. Rather, talking openly about it, reduces the stigma attached to suicide and mental health in general. Most people will have some thoughts of death some time in their lives. That does not necessarily mean they will commit suicide. However, an attempt significantly increases the risk of future attempts, and of course, the chance that they may be successful in their attempt.
Not just for attention: Suicide is not a coward’s act. Sadly, it takes a lot of hopelessness and worthlessness for a person to take that step. If someone tells you they are thinking of killing themselves, don’t fob it off as “attention-seeking behaviour”. It could be a cry for help.
Look for signs: Generally people who commit suicide tend to have mood disorders (depression or bipolar), psychotic disorders, borderline personality disorder or substance abuse problems. Having said that, there may be others without any of these but who are impulsive and may see no point in living. Suicide is generally resorted to because there is no hope, no other way out and nothing to live for. If you notice signs that a loved one is more withdrawn or more isolated, go talk to them. Check on them.
Recommend they see a professional: Remember, if you are not a trained professional, it’s not up to you to save their lives. Yes, you can help them by being there and supporting them. But part of the support involves referring them to see a psychologist.Being a mental health professional, we are asked to conduct risk assessments with every client. We need to check with every client whether they have had thoughts of suicide, thoughts of self-harm, suicide attempts, self-harm attempts and finally, plans for suicide. And of course, we can work through the other issues.
So do your bit this World Suicide Prevention Day: Talk about it. Face to face.
Until next time,