A young person, a brilliant executive, a celebrity, and more decide to take the step to end their life. A life is lost. Pain and grief strike the family and the loved ones. Questions raise, and people conclude.
Were there any early signs? Could their decision have been influenced to be reversed? Could hope have been imparted at the crucial moment?
September 11th marks World Suicide Prevention Day. Globally, 700,000 die due to suicide. It was the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds in 2019 (World Health Organisation). In India alone, every year, more than 1,00,000 people commit suicide. (National Crime Records Bureau, 2019)
Suicide is a serious public health problem. Understanding the myths that surround this area allow for the creation of practices to prevent it. In good time with evidence-based and often low-cost interventions are possible.
Individuals with a mental health condition, in most cases, are not affected by suicidal thoughts. Yet, not all people who commit suicide have a mental health condition. Relationship problems and other life stressors like loss of home, death of a loved one, a devastating or debilitating illness, trauma, sexual abuse, rejection, and recent or impending crises are also associated with suicidal thoughts and attempts.
The attempt to commit suicide often always arises from the need to end the suffering than really the desire to die. In tough times, one could be experiencing feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. They are not simply “thinking of themselves,” but going through mental health symptoms due to either mental illness or a difficult life situation.
Talking about suicide reduces the stigma and allows individuals to seek help, rethink their opinions, and share their stories with others. We all need to talk more about suicide.
The act of suicide is often an attempt to control deep, painful emotions and thoughts an individual is experiencing. Once these thoughts dissipate, so will the suicidal ideation. While suicidal thoughts can return, they are not permanent. An individual with suicidal thoughts and attempts can live a long, sufficient life.
Warning signs—verbally or behaviorally—precede most suicides. Therefore, it’s imperative to learn and understand the warnings signs associated with suicide. Many individuals who are suicidal may only show warning signs to those closest to them. These loved ones may not recognize what’s going on, which is how it may seem like the suicide was sudden or without warning.
Our ability as humans to reflect, think and engage can become our strengths for our community. By looking after that one friend, colleague, family member - we create the safety net for individuals to share and feel heard, increasing chances that the person withers through the challenge of storms that arise in their life. Hope is a decision that begins with a question - “How are you, really?” and an attentive listener.