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Take a step and save a life

To create worldwide attention, awareness and action about prevention of suicides 10th September is observed as suicide awareness day.

International Association for suicide prevention, founded by late Professor Erwin Ringel and Dr.Norman Farberow in 1960, various professionals and volunteers are associated with this Non –Governmental organization. ISAP in collaboration with WHO and World Federation for Mental health works to bring awareness about suicides among  general public.

September is being observed as Suicide Prevention month and Sept. 10 is observed as World Suicide Prevention Day.So ,I think it is important to reflect on suicide, its prevalence, risk factors, what to do if concerned about someone, and where from to get help.

World Suicide rates compared

The World Health Organization estimates that over 800,000 people die by suicide each year – that’s one person every 40 seconds. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people 15 to 29 years old, globally. But it’s also preventable. Awareness is the first step.

 

Why people commit suicide:

Although, there can be various reasons for committing suicide depending upon age, socio economic background, mental health etc. Certain factors like substance abuse and untreated depression can lead to higher risk of suicide.

Awareness about the issue can prevent suicides to a large extent. If we can identify the potential risk for suicide it can be treated on time and thus prevented.

Warning signs: A person may be in acute danger and may urgently need help.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself;
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself;
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose;
  • Talking about being a burden to others;
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs;
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless;
  • Sleeping too little or too much;
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated;
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.
  • Crying.
  • Fighting.
  • Breaking the law
  • Impulsiveness.
  • Self-mutilation.
  • Writing about death and suicide.
  • Previous suicidal behavior.
  • Extremes of behavior.
  • Changes in behavior.

Physical Changes

  • Lack of energy.
  • Disturbed sleep patterns – sleeping too much or too little.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Sudden weight gain or loss.
  • Increase in minor illnesses.
  • Change of sexual interest.
  • Sudden change in appearance.
  • Lack of interest in appearance.

Thoughts and Emotions

  • Thoughts of suicide.
  • Loneliness – lack of support from family and friends.
  • Rejection, feeling marginalized.
  • Deep sadness or guilt.
  • Unable to see beyond a narrow focus.
  • Daydreaming.
  • Anxiety and stress.
  • Helplessness.
  • Loss of self-worth.

SUICIDE AWARENESS FOR FRIENDS & FAMILY

Here are some points to remember while helping a person who feels suicidal.

  • Talking to the person about suicide.
  • Letting a suicidal person to express his or her feelings may prevent a suicide attempt.
  • Listening -really listening – is not easy. We must control the urge to say something – to make a comment, add to a story or offer advice.

We need to listen not just to the facts that the person is telling us but to the feelings that lie behind them. We need to understand things from their perspective, not ours.

 

Protective Factors: Protective factors are characteristics that make a person less likely to engage in suicidal behavior.

  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical and substance use disorders
  • Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions.
  • Restricted access to highly lethal means of suicide.
  • Strong connections to family and community support.
  • Support through ongoing medical and mental health care relationships
  • Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution and handling problems in a non-violent way.
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support self-preservation.

 

Do’s:

  • Be yourself. Let the person know you care, that he/she is not alone.
  • Listen. Let the suicidal person unload despair, ventilate anger. No matter how negative the conversation seems, the fact that it exists is a positive sign.
  • Be sympathetic, non-judgmental, patient, calm, accepting.
  • Offer hope. Reassure the person that help is available and that the suicidal feelings are temporary.

 

DON’T:

  • Argue with the suicidal person. Avoid saying things like: “You have so much to live for,” “Your suicide will hurt your family,” or “Look on the bright side.”
  • Promise confidentiality. Refuse to be sworn to secrecy. A life is at stake and you may need to speak to a mental health professional in order to keep the suicidal person safe. If you promise to keep your discussions secret, you may have to break your word.
  • Interrogate. Don’t change the subject, don’t pity or patronize. Talking about feelings is difficult. People who feel suicidal don’t want to be rushed or put on the defensive. Just listen.
  • Don’t suggest “cheer up”, or an easy assurance that “everything will be okay.”Don’t analyze, compare, categorize or criticize. Just listen.

RESPOND QUICKLY IN A CRISIS

  • If a friend or family member tells you that he or she is thinking about death or suicide, it’s important to evaluate the immediate danger the person is in.
  • If a suicide attempt seems imminent, call a local crisis center or take the person to an emergency room.
  • Remove guns, drugs, knives, and other potentially lethal objects from the vicinity but do not, under any circumstances, leave a suicidal person alone.

Helping a suicidal person:

  • Get professional help. Do everything in your power to get a suicidal person the help he or she needs. Call a crisis line for advice and referrals. Encourage the person to see a mental health professional, help locate a treatment facility, or take them to a doctor’s appointment.
  • Follow-up on treatment. If the doctor prescribes medication, make sure your friend or loved one takes it as directed.
  • Be proactive. Those contemplating suicide often don’t believe they can be helped, so you may have to be more proactive at offering assistance.
  • Encourage positive lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, and getting out in the sun or into nature for at least 30 minutes each day.  
  • Make a safety plan. Help the person develop a set of steps he or she promises to follow during a suicidal crisis. It should identify any triggers that may lead to a suicidal crisis, such as an anniversary of a loss, alcohol, or stress from relationships. Also include contact numbers for the person’s doctor or therapist, as well as friends and family members who will help in an emergency.
  • Remove potential means of suicide, such as pills, knives, razors, or firearms. If the person is likely to take an overdose, keep medications locked away or give out only as the person needs them.
  • Continue your support over the long haul. Even after the immediate suicidal crisis has passed, stay in touch with the person.

To conclude we can say that one kind word one smile or just one minute can save someone’s life.So, take a step and help someone who needs your attention.

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