Our exploration and awareness push for the mind, body and soul rolls onto…SUICIDE PREVENTION MONTH
Nearly 6,000 suicides occurred in the UK in 2017. That figure means there is one death by suicide every two hours – and many more people are thought to attempt suicide.
Suicide is the leading cause of death among young people aged 20-34 years in the UK and it is considerably higher in men, with around three times as many men dying as a result of suicide compared to women.
It is the leading cause of death for men under 50 in the UK and the prime age shows it to be men aged 40-44 yrs old most at risk.
One reason that men are more likely to complete suicide may be because they are less likely than women to ask for help or talk about depressive or suicidal feelings. Recent statistics show that only 27% of people who died by suicide between 2005 and 2015 had been in contact with mental health services in the year before they died.
This needs to change, It’s okay not to be okay and that message along with various campaigns for suicide and mental health need to be flanked by wave upon wave of more.
Suicide and mental health is still very misunderstood and handled badly so education, support and advice are imperative. So is your help. Have you checked in with friends and family lately and really taken in their news. Mannerisms, moods, behaviour and generally their life?
Now we hope to burst the ill-informed balloons of myths, mute the lies and give you a basic check-list for signs and what to say if you find someone in serious distress.
Someone who is thinking about suicide will usually give some clues also known as suicide warning signs to those around them that show they are troubled. Suicide prevention starts with recognising these warning signs and treating them seriously.
The following is a list of signs that people might give when they are feeling distraught and overwhelmed, in order to communicate their distress to others.
These physical changes and behaviours are indicators that a person might be thinking about suicide. Some of these signs are stronger indicators that a person may be contemplating suicide – these have been highlighted. It is likely that a suicidal person will display a combination of these signs rather than one single sign.
Suicide warning signs
- Major changes to sleeping patterns – too much or too little
- Loss of energy
- Loss of interest in personal hygiene or appearance
- Loss of interest in sex
- Sudden and extreme changes in eating habits – either loss of appetite or increase in appetite
- Weight gain or loss
- Increase in minor illnesses
- No future – “What’s the point? Things are never going to get any better”
- Guilt – “It’s all my fault, I’m to blame”
- Escape – “I can’t take this anymore”
- Alone – “I’m on my own … no-one cares about me”
- Damaged – “I’ve been irreparably damaged… I’ll never be the same again”
- Helpless – “Nothing I do makes a bit of difference, it’s beyond my control”
- Talking about suicide or death
- Planning for suicide
- Alcohol or drug misuse
- Fighting and/or breaking the law
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Quitting activities that were previously important
- Prior suicidal behaviour
- Putting affairs in order (giving away possessions, especially those that have special significance for the person)
- Writing a suicide note or goodbye letters to people
- Uncharacteristic risk-taking or recklessness (for example driving recklessly)
- Unexplained crying
- Emotional outbursts
Responding to suicide warning signs
Speak up if you are worried
Talking to a friend or family member about their suicidal thoughts and feelings can be extremely difficult. But if you’re unsure whether someone is suicidal, the best way to find out is to ask.
You might be worried that you might ‘put the idea of suicide into the person’s head’ if you ask about suicide. You can’t make a person suicidal by showing your concern. In fact, giving a suicidal person the opportunity to express his or her feelings can give relief from isolation and pent-up negative feelings, and may reduce the risk of a suicide attempt.
How to start a conversation about suicide
- I am worried about you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.
- I have noticed that you have been doing (state behaviour), is everything ok?
Questions you can ask
- What can I do to help you?
- What supports have you called on so far?
What you can say that helps
- I want to help you and I am here for your when you want to talk.
Myth: People who talk about suicide aren’t serious and won’t go through with it.
Fact: People who kill themselves have often told someone that they do not feel life is worth living or that they have no future. Some may have actually said they want to die. While it’s possible that someone might talk about suicide as a way of getting the attention they need, it’s vitally important to take anybody who talks about feeling suicidal seriously.
The majority of people who feel suicidal do not actually want to die; they do not want to live the life they have.
Myth: Once a person has made a serious suicide attempt, that person is unlikely to make another.
Fact: People who have tried to end their lives before are significantly more likely to eventually die by suicide than the rest of the population.
Myth: If a person is serious about killing themselves then there is nothing you can do.
Fact: Often, feeling actively suicidal is temporary, even if someone has been feeling low, anxious or struggling to cope for a long period of time. This is why getting the right kind of support at the right time is so important.
Myth: Talking about suicide is a bad idea as it may give someone the idea to try it.
Fact: Suicide can be a taboo topic in society. Often, people feeling suicidal don’t want to worry or burden anyone with how they feel and so they don’t discuss it. By asking directly about suicide you give them permission to tell you how they feel. People who have felt suicidal will often say what a huge relief it is to be able to talk about what their experiencing. Once someone starts talking they’ve got a better chance of discovering other options to suicide.
Myth: Most suicides happen in the winter months.
Fact: Suicide is more common in the spring and summer months.
Myth: People who threaten suicide are just attention seeking and shouldn’t be taken seriously.
Fact: People who threaten suicide should always be taken seriously. It may well be that they want attention in the sense of calling out for help, and giving them this attention may save their life.
Myth: People who are suicidal want to die.
Fact: The majority of people who feel suicidal do not actually want to die; they do not want to live the life they have. The distinction may seem small but is in fact very important and is why talking through other options at the right time is so vital.
If you need more help or you’re having these feelings youself then beyond the desperation and darkness is someone to listen. There are places to call, visit or stay and however bad the isolation feels, people care. We care and organisations like the Samitarians care and want to help. Call them, email them just make sure you do contact them and talk.