Know the Signs

In the 10 years to 2014, there was a 22 percent increase in the suicide rate in Australia. The statistics demand that we check current suicide prevention measures and look at what improvements can be made. It is accepted that suicide prevention is everyone’s business. It is thus important that we have a better understanding of suicide and know when a crisis might be imminent.

While you never know what’s going on in another person’s heart and mind, most people who are suicidal give some sign about their intention.  Suicide warning signs, sometimes muted and sometimes loud, are a cry for help. They can provide a chance for family, friends, work colleagues and health professionals to intervene and prevent the suicide from happening. We need to know the signs so we’re able to be there for a friend or loved one when it matters most.

Listen to what the person is saying.

  1. Talking about dying or ending their own life — e.g. “It’s useless, I just want to kill myself” or “I wish I hadn’t been born”
  2. Saying they have no reason for living and have no purpose in life – e.g. “No one can help me; it’s all hopeless and it always will be” or “Life isn’t worth living …”
  3. Expressing feelings of being trapped, like there’s no way out – e.g.“I just can’t take it anymore” or “I just can’t keep my thoughts straight.”
  4. Stating that they are a burden to others – e.g. “It would be better if I wasn’t here” or “No one can do anything to help me now.”

Observe how the person is behaving

  1. Withdrawing from friends, family, and regular activities; wanting to be left alone
  2. Giving or throwing away favourite possessions or belongings
  3. Showing a lack of interest in things they enjoy
  4. Unusual neglect of personal appearance

Validate what the person is feeling

  1. Becoming cheerful after an episode of depression
  2. Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  3. Evidence of clinical depression – sadness, despair, difficulty concentrating, boredom
  4. Frequent complaints about physical symptoms often related to emotions, such as stomach aches, headaches, and fatigue

Enlist the help and support of others

Although most people show some of these signs at some time, especially when they are tired, stressed or upset, it is better to step in or speak up than not to act at all.

If you sense a problem, ask the person direct questions and point out behaviour patterns that concern you. Remind the person that you care about them and are concerned.

If necessary, suggest that they make an appointment to see their doctor and offer to go with them if you sense they would have difficulty doing it on their own. If you believe that immediate self-harm is possible, take the person to a doctor or hospital emergency room immediately.

Love 6

This is one practical way we can LOVE our neighbour.

Author: Bruce Rickard

Reflections on Suicide and Staying Alive: My son's suicide changed everything. I felt an obligation to understand why anyone would want to end their life. My regular blog posts explore the causes and prevalence of suicide and what is needed to sustain a healthy mind and a hope-filled future.

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