-Aishwarya Raghavan

As mentioned in the previous article, Suicidal Behaviour- Why, suicide is not a mental illness but a serious potential consequence of treatable mental disorders that include major depression, bipolar disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Schizophrenia, substance use disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia nervosa. It is obvious suicidal thoughts are hard to identify because we cannot see what people are feeling inside, if we had, suicide might not even have existed. Though sad to mention, family problems (other than marriage-related issues) were behind 32.4 per cent of suicides, marriage-related problems (5.5 per cent) and illness (17.1 per cent) together accounted for 55 per cent of the total suicides in our country. Unfortunately, though no average man/woman is capable of mind-reading, thus all suicidal thoughts remain latent from our eyes.

But fortunately for all of us, we have empathy and a little bit of a sixth sense to identify the warning signs. If you hadn’t known them till now, here you go:

  • Talking about feeling hopeless, trapped, or alone, saying they have no reason to go on living
  •  Making a will or giving away personal possessions
  • Searching for a means of doing personal harm, such as buying a gun
  • Sleeping too much or too little; eating too little or eating too much, resulting in significant weight gain or loss
  • Engaging in reckless behaviours, including excessive alcohol or drug consumption
  • Avoiding social interactions with others and/or expressing rage or intentions to seek revenge
  • Showing signs of extreme anxiousness or agitation and having dramatic mood swings
  • Talking about suicide as a way out

It can feel scary, but taking action and getting someone the help they need may help prevent a suicide attempt or death. Suicide is preventable. Most suicidal individuals desperately want to live; they are just unable to see alternatives to their problems. In any case, you suspect your loved ones are going through these warning signs, you can confront them, in a non-judgemental way. Ask them direct questions- ‘Are you planning on suicide?’ During the conversation, make sure you stay calm and speak in a reassuring tone, acknowledge that their feelings are legitimate, offer support and encouragemen, ando tell them that help is available and feel better with treatment.

In some cases, the person just needs to know that someone cares and is looking for the chance to talk about their feelings. You can then encourage the person to seek professional help. It can be frightening when someone you care about shows suicidal signs. But it’s critical to take action if you’re in a position to help. Starting a conversation to try to help save a life is a risk worth taking. If you’re concerned and don’t know what to do, you can get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline.

There are times you may face imminent danger, but how do you know what are the signs of such danger? Here are few:

  • Putting their affairs in order or giving away their possessions and saying goodbyes to friends and family
  • Having a mood shift from despair to calm
  • Planning, looking to buy, steal, or borrow the tools to complete a suicide, such as a firearm or medications.

Now what can you do if you find them at such immediate risk of self -harm:

  • Call the local emergency number and stay with the person till help arrives.
  • Remove any objects that can cause them danger or give a chance of self-harm and listen to them, don’t judge, threaten or yell.

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of someone’s suicidal thoughts and behaviour. In many cases, though, treatment consists of talk therapy and medication.

  • Talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy, is one possible treatment method for lowering your risk of attempting suicide. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that’s often used for people who are having thoughts of suicide.
  • If talk therapy isn’t enough to lower the risk medications like antidepressants, antipsychotic medications or anti-anxiety medications.
  • Lifestyle changes like exercising, having good sleep and avoiding alcohol and drugs are also suggested.

The prevalence of suicidal thoughts, suicidal planning and suicide attempts is significantly higher among adults aged 18-29 than among adults aged 30+ as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In case you have noticed that you have suicidal thoughts, don’t fret there are ways to help yourself out of them. Talk to someone, don’t take it all up by yourself; don’t skip the meditations or an appointment with a healthcare provider because proper touch with your therapist will help them lookout for the warning signs, and finally eliminate access to objects that may trigger you to commit self-harm. If you’ve had suicidal thoughts or feelings, don’t be ashamed and don’t keep it to yourself. While some people have suicidal thoughts without any intention of ever acting on them, it’s still important to take some action.

Today, many organizations and professionals are working hard on suicide prevention, and there are more resources available than ever. No one should have to deal with suicidal thoughts alone. Whether you’re a loved one who’s concerned about someone or you’re struggling yourself, help is available. Don’t keep silent — you may help save a life.

Some suicide prevention helpline websites and websites that have contact information of suicide prevention helplines: