Last month, we accompanied our son to complete his admission formalities at his college up North we stayed for a week. In that short time, one night, we heard a commotion in one of the hostels. The guest house where we stayed was some distance away, yet the sounds reached us. Turned out that one of the students had swallowed sleeping pills in an attempt to end his life. Luckily someone happened to go to his room and immediately arranged for the ambulance, which is available on campus to take him to the nearest hospital. He was saved.
Sadly, there are so many who aren’t.
The World Health Organization (WHO), in its report Preventing Suicide: A Global Imperative, states that over 800,000 people die by suicide across the world each year. Regardless of the statistics, each individual suicide is a tragic loss of life. No one can imagine the extreme psychological pain that drives someone to suicide as the only solution. Reaching out to someone who is struggling can make the difference between life and death.
The theme for this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day” is “Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives”
Who is at risk?
What warning signs to look for?
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
- Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdrawn or feeling isolated.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
- Preoccupation with death.
- Suddenly happier, calmer.
- Loss of interest in things one cares about.
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
- Making arrangements; setting one’s affairs in order.
- Giving things away, such as prized possessions.
If you know someone who shows these signs, how can you help?
Here is what to do:
- Ask directly if the person is thinking about suicide.
- Be willing to listen. Allow their expressions of feelings, and accept those feelings.
- Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life. Focus on being present with their feelings.
- Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
- Check in with them regularly. Schedule times to talk for the next week when you will both be available, to see how they are doing.
- Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you. Be patient with yourself and the situation.
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
- Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
- Take action. Remove lethal means (weapons, pills, alcohol)
- Get help from agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
- Encourage (and offer to accompany) them to seek help and support from a crisis specialist, therapist, doctor and/or clergy member.
- Talk together about they can use a crisis coping plan to help him/her to cope in these difficult moments.
Suicide is 100% preventable.
If you’re worried about someone, speak up. Reach out.
World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is an awareness day observed on 10 September every year, in order to provide worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides, with various activities around the world. The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), collaborates with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Federation for Mental Health, to host World Suicide Prevention Day