Suicide: Hope Through Action

by Ella Dunthorne

10 September 2021

“If you ever think about giving up, remember why you held on for so long.”

 – Hayley Williams

60 Suicide Quotes to Inspire Prevention | Everyday Power

It is Suicide Prevention Day and this year the theme is ‘creating hope through action’. Suicide is our most preventable health issue. Yet, according to The World Health Organization, ‘more than 700,000 people die due to suicide every year’. [1] This does not even show the full extent of this problem, as suicide is often under-reported due to the stigma attached to this type of death.

What are the warning signs someone displays who is at risk of committing suicide?

The National Institute of Mental Health lists the following signs : [2]

  • Talking about wanting to die, feeling trapped or having no reason to live.
  • Feeling overwhelming physical or emotional pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to other people.
  • Risk taking behaviour which may lead to death.
  • Thinking or discussing death often.
  • Being socially withdrawn.
  • Making a will, giving items away and saying goodbye to loved ones.

Why might someone commit suicide?

The most common reason is severe depression. Depression makes people feel a loss of hope and this can result in them taking their own lives to relive their emotional pain.  

Mental illness can add to your risk of suicide which includes: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder or eating disorders. Traumatic stress can increase your risk too.

A sad story

I know what it feels like to lose someone to suicide.

There is a kind of emptiness and quiet that only people who have experienced this will understand. My friend was a confident and bubbly 14 year old girl. She went to a psychiatric hospital and had been there for a number of months. Although she was under the nurses care, she ended her life.

And, just like that, she was gone.

At first, it didn’t sink in. I couldn’t quite believe what had happened. That someone so full of life was now lifeless.

What this has taught me is to embrace every moment and to be kind to others. You don’t know what they are going through. I couldn’t have predicted this outcome. But, I wanted to tell this story to show you that, although I am not a mental health expert, I understand what it is like to lose someone.

What can I do if I feel suicidal?

If you feel like you want to commit suicide, it is vital you tell someone.

You should not have to struggle with this on your own.

The NHS UK website suggests that you phone a helpline which is free and usually open 24 hours a day every day.

Samaritans – for anyone

Call 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org

Childline – for children and young people under 19

Call 0800 1111

For a full list of suicide helplines visit the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/feelings-symptoms-behaviours/behaviours/help-for-suicidal-thoughts/

You can also call your doctor and ask for an emergency appointment, phone your mental health crisis team or dial 111 which will get you the help you need.

How can I help others who may be suicidal?

Speak up

If you see the warning signs of suicide in someone you are close to, you might question if it’s okay to say something about it. What if you’re overthinking it? What if the other person gets offended? It’s normal to find this situation uncomfortable or to feel afraid of speaking up. However, anyone who talks about ending their life or exhibits other warning signs requires help— as quickly as possible.

Discussing a loved ones suicidal thoughts and feelings can be particularly challenging. But if you do not know whether that person is suicidal, the fastest way to find out is to ask. When you give someone who is considering suicide the chance to tell you how they are feeling it can make them feel less isolated and may even stop a suicide attempt.

You can start a conversation by saying:

“I have felt concerned about you recently…”

“I wanted to see how you are because you haven’t seemed yourself.”

Offer help

Help someone who is suicidal get the help they so desperately need. You can phone a crisis line for advice, take them to a doctor’s appointment or even advise them to seek mental health help.

Ensure your family member or friend takes prescriptions for this as directed on the label or by a medical professional. Contact your doctor if this person gets worse or has adverse side effects.

Be consistent. If someone is suicidal they need someone to be there for them even when they don’t ask for help. Offer to visit them or invite them out socially. This can make a huge difference to someone who may otherwise feel a lack of purpose or loneliness.

Make sure that potential suicide means are not accessible to them such as: sharp objects, pills or weapons.

Encourage this person to live healthily and exercise. Physical activity can release endorphins which can reduce stress and will make them feel happier.

Continue to support your loved one or friend long term, as this will mean that they can keep recovering and stay well.

References:

[1] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/suicide

[2] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention

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