Monday, November 20, 2006

The Warning Signs of Suicide - Michael Russell

Have you experienced being told by someone that she wants to end her life? You may not know exactly how to react to it or you may find it absurd. Oftentimes, hearing this kind of statement from someone we know or love will lead us to ask the question, why?

For some people, talking about or attempting suicide is actually an overt cry for help. They do not really want to die but it is their way of desperately seeking for help. Yet for some others, suicide is the only way to put an end to their pain and misery.

A person may think about suicide but this doesn't actually mean that a concrete action is bound to be executed. Sometimes this only measures the level of distress a person is experiencing in her life and how she views life's worth.

There are those who are at greater risk of committing suicide than others. Location can be a factor. Those living in cities are more prone to commit suicide that those residing in rural areas. Age also is a factor. There is a higher tendency of older individuals committing suicide compared to younger people. Women have shown more suicide attempts than men, although there is a higher percentage of men actually committing suicide than women. There is a higher suicide rate also for certain occupations among which are psychiatrists, lawyers, musicians and police officers.

Here are the risks factors that indicate a person's heightened vulnerability to suicide:

1. A previous history of suicide attempts can predispose a person to commit suicide again.

2. A family history of suicide makes a person more susceptible to commit suicide herself.

3. When a person makes plans to commit suicide.

4. A person who is experiencing life's loss may be may be undergoing bouts of depression. This could be due to a loss of a loved one, a job loss or a person may be undergoing the painful process of divorce or even not being able to find a suitable life partner. These are instances that can cause depression. When the experiences of depression worsen, this may precipitate into suicide.

5. Physical health problems including debilitating diseases like cancer and AIDS. Also a recent major surgery that renders an individual in severe pain or chronic and terminal illnesses that offer no positive diagnosis and leave an individual helpless and hopeless.

6. Recent loss of a loved one, maybe a spouse and more so if it is a child.

7. When a person doesn't have a social support system; no friends or close relatives to talk to when problems arise and depression sets in.

Talking honestly and openly about suicide with the person who has a suicidal tendency may actually help the person prevent suicide. Never take suicide threats lightly. If you know a person who threatens to commit suicide, urge her to seek professional help. If you don't know what to do and say if person comes up to you and tell you she wants to end her life, try these suggestions:

1. Help the person talk about how she feels and acknowledge her pain.

2. If there is a specific behavior that the individual is practicing that needs to be addressed, inform her. It could be an increasing frequency of her drinking sessions to drown her misery or her withdrawal from social functions and being alone most of the time.

3. Urge her to seek professional help. It could be depression that is pushing her to suicidal tendencies. Her depression can be treated with counseling or drug therapy.

4. Show the person that you care and her well-being is important to you. Let her feel that you are there all the way to support her. Offer a message of hope and support and let her feel that you mean it.

Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to Depression

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