On Suicide: When and How to Confront It
Several factors increase the risk of suicide; day-to-day difficulties, overwhelming situations at home or work, and mental health disorders (to name a few). It is important to remember that not everyone who dies by suicide has a known mental illness by the time of their death. Luckily, some strategies can be used to notice and help someone who is struggling.
The Root of Suicidal Thoughts
Mental illness, as some would describe it, is a monster. A monster many people have to battle regardless of their age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. It can leave one feeling hopeless and lost, resulting in suicidal thoughts and tendencies. We end up losing so much without being cognizant of the false realities which we have created. However, this isn’t just a battle, it’s a war: one that leaves us feeling superior one day and devastated the next. As one matures, there comes a new set of daily struggles and battles. Ones that are unpredictable and sometimes feel ultimately meaningless. Sadly, not everyone is able to process and understand their feelings.
Unfortunately, it often happens that some don’t know how to tackle the war head-on, and cannot access the necessary tools and guidance they seek. Some also fear judgment from those around them. The society we live in today imposes a set of rules that diverse and creative people are directly limited by. Statistics have shown that in the United States alone, there are an average of 132 suicides per day, which is a direct result of the societal lack of attention on individual needs.
How To Be Aware
Moving forward, it is vital to be aware of the warning signs in order to be able to know when someone is going through a difficult time. Here are some of the signs you should watch out for:
- Threats or comments about killing themselves.
- Social withdrawal from friends, family and the community.
- Increased alcohol and/or drug use.
- Dramatic mood swings.
- Aggressive, impulsive, or reckless behavior.
- Talking, writing or thinking about death.
Spotting signs or providing help can be difficult, and taking action can be an intimidating task. In order to avoid putting yourself in a position which causes personal mental duress, it’s important to note that it is not your responsibility to ‘fix’ or act as a professional caretaker in these situations. Offering a helping hand and directing the person in question to outside help should be the focus of identifying these warning signs in a friend, family member, or colleague.
If you are wondering how to approach anyone you are concerned about, you should start by sharing your concerns with them in a non-judgmental and non-confrontational manner. The way you ask the question is very important, because, if they feel like they are being interrogated instead of welcomed, they may avoid this conversation.
Changing for the Better
Acceptance is vital when it comes to this matter. For instance, one must accept people‘s differences, past experiences and actions. Accepting others takes practice, but it’s crucial to make a conscious effort as we move forward.
According to ClassPass blog, there are four easy ways to practice accepting:
- Forbid Judgement.
- Acknowledge other peoples’ differences.
- Start with accepting yourself.
- Find the good!
As daunting as the concept seems, being able to identify the impact of ongoing tribulations in the lives of those around you is the first step to creating a support system and finding resources to help. Almost everyone knows someone who has considered suicide at one point in their lives without showing signs of suicidal tendencies. In order to maintain an open line of communication, check up on people in your life and see how they are doing, especially when they have just experienced something new (like moving cities or schools) every couple of days, or daily if possible. One must make sure that the person is no longer in danger of injuring themselves or others.
As a reminder, if you do not know how to help, looking into professional help should be the top priority. That can come in the form of a therapist, distress centre, or suicide prevention hotline. It’s okay to ask for help, especially as a situation develops past your ability to provide support.
There are numerous factors which lead to an increased risk of suicide, but warning signs are often masked by individuals to draw attention away from themselves. Declining mental health will affect people differently, and checking in on those around you is a way to remind someone that you are present and ready to listen when they’re ready.
No war was fought by a one-man army; careful strategy and teamwork are necessary to come out on top. The support of those around you, the professionals you reach out to and developing healthy coping mechanisms are what pave the path of victory – the path full of a future that’s waiting for you.