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How do I know if someone wants to commit suicide?

 

Dr. Elizma van der Smit October 2017

· Mind

On average, there are 121 suicides per day!!!!

Often contemplation of suicide is a result of someone being overwhelmed by a variety of life circumstances such as setbacks or disappointments in life, loss, divorce or breakup, financial stress, medical illness, family history and genetics, trauma etc.

Any one of these causes or a combination of several can contribute to depression because they bring on physical weakness and stress. Depression or thoughts of suicide can affect anybody.

SIGNS TO LOOK FOR:

According to research 70% of people who commit suicide tell someone about their plans, or give some other type of warning signs.

Have you ever heard someone say two or more of the following?

  • Life isn’t worth living
  • My family (or friends or girlfriend/boyfriend) would be better off without me
  • Next time I’ll take enough pills to do the job right
  • Take my prized collection or valuables — I don’t need this stuff anymore
  • Don’t worry, I won’t be around to deal with that
  • You’ll be sorry when I’m gone
  • I won’t be in your way much longer
  • I just can’t deal with everything — life’s too hard
  • I won’t be a burden much longer
  • Nobody understands me — nobody feels the way I do
  • There’s nothing I can do to make it better
  • I’d be better off dead
  • I feel like there is no way out
  • You’d be better off without me

What are other warning signs?

Other signs and behaviors to be aware of and that might suggest someone being at risk of suicide include – but are not limited to:

  • Dramatic changes in mood
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Agitation
  • Increase in drug and alcohol use
  • Risk taking behavior
  • Aggressive, impulsive and/or violent acts
  • Expressions of hopelessness and purposelessness
  • Lack of self-care or outright neglect of self
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Feeling tired most of the time
  • Gaining or losing a significant amount of weight
  • Changes in eating and sleeping pattern
  • Withdrawal from family, friends, and interests
  • Giving away prize possessions and/or making a will; tidying up personal affairs; writing notes; making notes on belongings
  • Reconnecting with old friends and extended family as if to say goodbye
  • Previous unresolved or recent suicide attempt(s)
  • Unusual happiness and peace after an intense period of turmoil and displaying the above characteristics

HOW CAN I TELL IF THE SITUATION IS SERIOUS?

The three questions you need to ask are:

  1. Have you decided how you would kill yourself?
  2. Have you decided when you would do it?
  3. Have you taken any steps to secure the things you would need to carry out your plan?

A higher level of planning indicates a more serious risk. However, you must remember that the absence of a plan is not enough to ensure the person’s safety. All thoughts of suicide must be taken seriously.

WHAT IF THE PERSON MAKES ME PROMISE NOT TO TELL ANYONE ELSE?

You should never agree to keep a plan for suicide a secret. Even if you do, this is a promise you should not keep.

HOW SHOULD I TALK TO SOMEONE WHO IS SUICIDAL?

  • Tell the suicidal person that you care and that you want to help them.
  • Express empathy for the person and what they are going through. Let them do most of the talking and do not attempt to ‘solve’ the problems yourself.
  • Clearly state that thoughts of suicide are often associated with a treatable mental disorder, as this may instill a sense of hope for the 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 or the emergency room.
  • Do not leave them alone.
DO YOUR BEST:

Do your best for the person you are trying to help. Remember, though, that despite our best efforts, some people will still die by suicide.

Suicide Crisis Line South Africa 0800 567 567

If you're thinking about suicide, please read Suicide Help or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) in the U.S.! To find a suicide helpline outside the U.S., visit IASP or Suicide.org.

This post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered therapy. This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental Health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.

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This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.