This is a bit of a heavy topic but since September is suicide prevention month, I thought it would be fitting. Suicide is a global phenomenon, according to WHO (World Health Organization) it accounts for 1.3% of all deaths worldwide, making it the 17th leading cause of death as of 2019. More than 700,000 people die by suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds.
So, what is suicide? It is the act of ending your own life. Frequently suicide occurs in the context of a major depressive episode, but it may also occur as a result of a substance use or other disorder. There is a lot of misconception around suicide, a lot of taboo & judgement when it comes to the subject. Suicidal acts/ gestures should not be distinguished from other self-harming, self-injurious, or parasuicidal acts & gestures which are also deliberate act (topic for another day), but are not intended to cause death.
Different signs/symptoms individuals who are suffering/battling suicidal thoughts portray. One of them is suicidal ideation this is a term used by mental health professions to describe suicidal thoughts and feelings (without suicidal actions). For example, people experiencing suicidal ideation commonly report that they feel worthless, that life is not worth living, and that the world would be better off without them. Even though suicidal ideation is considered less serious than actual suicide attempts, it can be a real cause for concern. Anyone who has suicidal ideation is at some risk of becoming actively suicidal. A further problem is that once suicidal ideation has become established, it can become a “cognitive habit”; something that reappears periodically and spontaneously during times of stress as an automatic and habitually negative, dysfunctional style of thinking. Such dysfunctional automatic thinking styles are especially common in people who are currently depressed or who are recovering from a previous period of depression. The continuing presence of such styles of thinking in a person who has recovered from depression can be a risk factor for further depression and for suicidal gestures. Suicidal ideation is only dangerous to the extent that it motivates suicidal planning and actions.
Suicidal Gestures or “suicide attempts” are actual attempts to kill yourself, no matter how ineffective those attempts may ultimately be. Suicidal gestures may be acted out with full lethal intent, or they may be acted out half-heartedly, more as a means of communicating the depths of your pain to others around you than an actual effort to end your life. Regardless of the intent and degree of seriousness that motivates them, suicidal gestures are often dangerous events.
What brings about suicidal thoughts or actions, what cause someone to end their own life?
This often occurs when a person feels like they have hit rock bottom, the individual feels overwhelmed by their lives, that they can no longer cope with living. Individuals at this point are often in a state of immense emotional pain & despair
Suicidal ideations & gestures can be brought about by:
- Mental Health problems,
- Bullying / discrimination
- Break-up from a relationship
- Bereavement from loss of a loved one
- Terminal illness
- Trauma of any sorts
- Different factors such as war, economic collapse, pandemics & etc.
Statistically men are more prone to commit suicide than women, this is largely brough about by the stigma that men are not allowed to express their emotions. So more often than not they struggle in silence until they can no longer handle it. It is a sad reality & misconception, weather man or woman humans are prone to emotion, we are allowed to feel happy or sad. Seeking help or showing emotion in times of hardship is not a sign of weakness that should be mistaken as less manly, no to the contrary it is a sign of immense courage & strength.
Life can be difficult, unfair & straight up cruel sometimes, it is important especially now with all that is happening in the world to check up on loved ones & treat everyone you meet with kindness because you never know what someone is struggling with in private.
How to act around individuals suffering from suicidal thoughts.
People who are struggling from suicidal thoughts are already at their lowest and struggling, so when someone opens up about how they are feeling IT IS NOT an act for attention more of a cry for help & support. They are often very fragile and anything you say to them in this state is very impactful.
Avoid guilt tripping them saying things like “imagine how your loved ones will feel” cause more often than not they have already imagined it & it only makes them feel worse & now guilty, which might cause them to shut off from opening up again.
Even though someone has suicidal tendencies multiple times does not mean it is less serious each time. Its actually an indication that the person might soon act out on their thoughts. Small gestures or acts of self-harm can be indications of internal struggle.
Do not make them feel like a bother for having these thoughts and if you do not know how to handle the situation seek help from a professional. Always take the person seriously because you do not how far gone they are.
Even if they insist if someone is acting suicidal, they should not be left alone.