In light of World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10), here’s what you need to know to help save someone’s life
Pain isn’t always obvious. Every day, your family, friends and co-workers struggle with emotional pain. For some, it’s too difficult to talk about the pain, their thoughts about suicide and needing help. However, just because they may not come to you for help, doesn’t mean it isn’t wanted or needed.
People who commit suicide don’t want to end their lives; they just want to stop hurting. The warning signs could be subtle, but they are there. Learning how to recognise these signs, taking them seriously and learning how to deal with someone who’s having suicidal thoughts, can save a life.
Suicide warnings that you should pay attention to
If you think someone you care about is exhibiting these warning signs, it’s natural to feel uncomfortable or afraid. However, anyone who mentions suicide or shows these warning signs needs immediate help – and the sooner, the better.
Talking about suicide
Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm, such as “I wish I hadn’t been born”, “If I see you again…” and “I’d be better off dead“.
Preoccupation with death
Unusual focus on death, dying or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.
No hope for the future
Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped (“There’s no way out“). Belief that things will never get better or change.
Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden (“Everyone would be better off without me“).
Getting affairs in order
Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.
Unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again.
Withdrawing from others
Withdrawing from friends and family. Increasing social isolation. Desire to be left alone.
Increased alcohol intake, reckless driving and taking unnecessary risks as if they have a ‘death wish’.
Sudden sense of calm
A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to attempt suicide.
How to talk to someone who’s having suicidal thoughts
It can be extremely difficult for us to talk to a friend or a family member about their suicidal thoughts and feelings. But if you’re unsure whether he/she is suicidal, the best way to find out is to ask. Giving someone who’s been having suicidal thoughts the opportunity to express his or her feelings, can help ease their loneliness and pent-up negative emotions and provide release.
Start the conversation
- “I have been feeling concerned about you lately.”
- “I have noticed some differences in you lately, and I was wondering how you are doing.”
- “I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.”
Ask them questions
- “When did you begin feeling like this?”
- “Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?”
- “How can I best support you right now?”
- “Have you thought about getting help?”
- “I’m here for you. You are not alone in this. “
- “You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.”
- “I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.”
- “When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold off for just one more day, hour, minute – whatever you can manage.”