Mental Health Awareness

How to prevent suicide? Suicide Prevention Awareness Week!

Recently we had 10th September – World Suicide Prevention Day and now having this National Suicide Prevention Week (9-15th of every September). Though, every day matters, when it comes to suicide prevention.

The debate about mental health and mental illness is now a concern around the globe. An issue that needs to be resolved on all grounds starting by means of generating awareness among general masses. Among the prevalent mental health issues suicide is one of them -a hot topic.

Suicide statistics:

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), ranks suicide as the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, taking the lives of approximately 47,000 Americans each year. It is also the second leading cause of death (after accidents) for people aged 10 to 34. While the World Health Organization estimates that approximately 1 million people die each year from suicide. These figures are more than those killed by war and homicide or even  breast cancer (WHO)

  With every passing 40 seconds, a person dies from suicide”  (WHO statistics)

WHO, Mental Health Action Plan has been devised using an integral approach to prevent suicide, with the goal of reducing the rate of suicide in the world by 10% until the year, 2020.

Action Plan has been devised using an integral approach to prevent suicide, with the goal of reducing the rate of suicide in the world by 10% until the year, 2020.

 Here we are three months to go by 2020!

Formerly and still today in many regions of the world, suicide is considered a criminal offense, a religious taboo, a stigma to talk about while in some cases, an act of honor (such as suicide bombings). Yet,

Whether it is as;

  • Completed suicide– the deliberate act of taking one’s own life leading to one’s death.
  • Attempted suicide – an attempt to take one’s life that does not end in death, rather self-injury.
  • Assisted suicide-(medical cases) as an individual helping another individual in bringing about their own death by providing them with the means to carry it out or by providing advice on how to do it.

Whatever kind or type, this has to stop now. Because for every suicide, many more people attempt suicide every year and suicide can turn out to be an epidemic.

Why would anyone want to commit suicide? What are the causes of suicide/ Why it is an epidemic now?

There is no single explanation of why people commit suicide. Nevertheless, much of this activity is done without forethought. It is an impulsive act. It is difficult to understand what drives so many individuals to take their own lives even when they are not in the grips of suicidal depression and despair. There may be some overwhelming situations to which they feel unable to cope. So, what type of events and circumstances may direct the person that he or she can see no other option except to wipe them off.

Let’s make a checklist of risks to ease this enigmatic question of why and how?

Warning signs of suicide

Watch out and feel the warning signs that say this is the time someone vulnerable will put a full stop on their life. Being aware of the warning signs of suicide will help individuals to direct people who may be considering suicide, to get help. Conditions that are linked to a higher risk of suicidal acts and thoughts include:

  • Suicidal ideation or an attempt, someone is thinking, talking, or writing about suicide, planning for suicide or previously made a suicide attempt
  • Having a psychiatric disorder or mental illness, such as mood disorders (depression, bipolar disorder)
  • A history of suicide in the family or mental disorders in family
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Chronic physical illness, including chronic pain
  • Substance abuse by a person or a family history of substance abuse
  • consuming drugs or more alcohol than usual, or starting drinking when they had not previously done so
  • Anxiety, agitation, being unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Losses and other events (for example, the breakup of a relationship or a death, academic failures, legal difficulties, financial difficulties, bullying)
  • Social withdrawal, seclusion or loneliness
  • Recent discovered reckless or impulsive behavior
  • Feelings of purposelessness and  hopelessness
  • Getting hold of a gun, medications, or substances that could end a life.
  • Repeated talking about revenge, guilt, or shame
  • knowing, identifying, or being associated with someone who has committed suicide
  • Seeming to be unable to experience pleasurable emotions from normally pleasurable life events such as eating, exercise, social interaction, or sex.
  • Remorse, rejection, a relationship breakup, and unemployment.

Settling outstanding affairs, giving away prized or valuable possessions, or making amends when they are otherwise not expected to die (typically in a terminal cancer patient)

Related: What causes anxiety disorders to develop in adults?

Suicide Prevention

Suicide prevention can only be successful by recognition of the warning signs and indicators and taking them seriously. If a person is considering suicide, family members, closest friends, and therapists may easily notice through a person’s speech or behavior that they could be at risk. You may feel scary but taking action and getting someone the help, they need at the right time, may help prevent a suicide attempt or death.

The National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) suggests the following tips for those going through suicidal ideation or attempt:

Seek treatment and help

It is essential to seek treatment if you or a loved one is experiencing mental health problems. Follow the treatment plan, taking medications as instructed, discuss your treatment experience at each follow-up.

Ask them and listen to them

If someone is thinking about suicide, talk to them and ask about their thoughts. Listen to them without judgment. Asking or listening to them won’t increase the risk.

Try to keep them safe

By staying around and removing means of committing suicide, such as knives and other weapons, pesticides, medications, firearms or other potentially harmful objects.

Encourage them to take help

Encourage them to call a helpline or contacting someone the individual might turn to for support, for example, a friend, family member, or spiritual mentor. Stay with the person until professional help arrives.

Follow up

After the crisis has passed, as this appears to reduce the risk of a recurrence

Other tips include keeping some emergency phone numbers at hand, for example, a trusted friend, a helpline, and the person’s doctor.

For assistance suicide prevention hotline are provided by some countries, for instance by the US:

  • Call 911 or the local emergency number.
  • If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. There is a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.
  • If you’re thinking about suicide, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) in the U.S.

Beyond direct measures to prevent suicide, the responsibility of state and other health agencies is to provide preventive and proactive measures, such as screening and treatment programs for mental health problems, social support and social engagement of at-risk people as well.

By thorough understanding and identifying the risk factors, prevention, and what we can be helpful to prevent a life loss. Let’s make a pledge to fight this invisible battle.

Suicide is 100% preventable, speak up, reach out. Let’s pledge to save a life.

Dr. Tayaba Sarfraz

Medical Doctor | Medical Educationist & Writer Mommy of 2 | Master chef | Health Enthusiast

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