September 10, 2014 is World Suicide Prevention Day co-sponsored by the World Health Organization and the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP)
Around the world, suicide is a major public health problem and is the leading cause of death for young people. Worldwide, nearly one million people succumb to suicide each year, a number that exceeds deaths from war and homicide combined. This year marks the 12th anniversary of World Suicide Prevention Day with the theme “One World Connected.” In honor of National Suicide Prevention Week, let us participate in as many of these #suicideprevention events as we can.
This year, I am participating in the Suicide Prevention campaign with MSW@USC
Let us use our voices for suicide prevention!
How to help someone contemplating suicide
The world of depression and suicide is a tough place. A rough place. No one can understand it.
Nobody wants to die. After all, survival marks the human instinct.
But depression, for those who suffer from it, can be suffocating. The sun seems to appear dim and life looks hopeless..never-ending disturbing and miserable.
When depression gets out of control, suicide seems like the answer. It is pretty much like standing atop a burning building, the fires raging below. You watch the flames they eat up the structure, knowing they’ll soon consume you.
You can choose between suffering a slow death or taking the leap and jumping to a quick death. Suicide seems the perfect escape from the pain you feel.
For an onlooker, what the person goes through is near-impossible to understand.
Every day, there are suicide cases reported in the newspapers. It is heart-breaking to think how many of these could have been easily prevented, if only there had been a line of communication open between them and someone who cared. Look at these headlines:
A class IX student of a school was found hanging from the ceiling fan of his room. Family of the boy has blamed two teachers of the school claiming that the student was humiliated by them in school.
Depressed for failing in SSLC exams, a 16 year old student committed suicide inside her residence
Depressed after her parents asked her to delete her social network account, a class VIII student allegedly committed suicide inside her residence.
A 17-year-old girl allegedly committed suicide by hanging in her apartment on Saturday late night. The police said she took the extreme step due to stress related to studies.
A 13-year-old school going boy committed suicide early on Saturday after being reprimanded by his parents for not studying.
Depressed over life after her father allegedly refused to send her to friend’s marriage reception, a 19 year old student committed suicide by hanging
Can you help them?
For the one contemplating suicide, it is very hard to understand that there is hope, that there are other ways to seek relief from the pain.You need compassion, empathy and effort to communicate this and tell them that they are not alone.
The best way to do this is to assure them that you understand how they feel…and that you realize why, right now, suicide seems like the only solution.
More than anything else, get the person to talk.
Remember not to be judgmental. And no labeling. They need your love.
Use words like “caring”, “loving” and “accepting”. This is important. Say them like you mean it. You want the person to know that no matter what brought them to this point, they can overcome it, survive it. There are people who care for them, people who’ve been there and people whose goal is to help others.
“There is no such thing as no hope.”
Tell the suicidal person that there is hope, and that their life is important to you.
Don’t say inane things like they have so much to live for, or that their action will hurt their family….or encourage them to look at the bright side. They can’t. At this point these statements sound patronizing and will only lead to non-productive arguments. Right now, what they need is empathy and a caring attitude. If there’s professional help at hand, even better, as they have the training and skills to talk to them.
Above all, listen. The person needs to talk. They need to vent their emotions, their fears, their anger. Urge them to talk about why they want to commit suicide.
Suggest alternatives. Get them talking about what they think will work for them. Most times, suicidal people tend to feel isolated and trapped. The goal is to make them feel they are not alone. That they belong and that there’s a solution. That suicide is not the answer.
Here is a printable:
USC’s You Matter Campaign