Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
About 1 in 10 deaths in SA are suicide. It is scary, but if we know what to look for and what to do, we can prevent suicide. Suicide shouldn’t be secret.
People who are thinking about suicide, feel alone and isolated. They feel no understands how they feel. They feel they are a burden on their family or suicide is a way to get control back over their lives.
1. People who die by suicide usually talk about it first. They are in pain and oftentimes reach out for help because they do not know what to do and have lost hope.
2. Always take talk about suicide seriously.
3. People who talk about wanting to die by suicide oftentimes kill themselves.
4. Suicide can be prevented. Most people who are suicidal do not want to die; they just want to stop their pain.
5. Suicide can strike anyone.
6. People who attempt suicide and survive will oftentimes make additional attempts.
7. Telling them that they “just want something” or “are trying to manipulate” is both insensitive and ignorant.
8. People often talk about suicide before dying by suicide.
9. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people aged 15-24. Sometimes children younger than 10 years old die by suicide.
11. Oftentimes people who die by suicide are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
12. Untreated mental illness (including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and others) is the cause for the vast majority of suicides.
13. Some people die by suicide because of a depression that was caused by genetics.
What are the warning signs of suicide?
- Talking or joking about suicide
- Preparing for death
- Changes in personality
- Loss of interest in appearance, drop in hygiene
- Risk taking behaviour
- Excessive feelings of guilt
- Suddenly feeling better
- Writing poems, essays about death, SMS’s or painting images of death.
What causes a person to commit suicide?
It is very rare that someone dies by suicide because of one cause. Thus, there are usually several causes, and not just one, for suicide.
Some of the negative life experiences that may cause depression, and some other causes for depression, include:
- The death of a loved one.
- A divorce, separation, or breakup of a relationship.
- Losing custody of children, or feeling that a child custody decision is not fair.
- A serious loss, such as a loss of a job, house, or money.
- A serious or terminal illness.
- A serious accident.
- Chronic physical pain.
- Intense emotional pain.
- Loss of hope.
- Being victimized (domestic violence, rape, assault, etc).
- A loved one being victimized (child murder, child molestation, kidnapping, murder, rape, assault, etc.).
- Physical, verbal or sexual abuse.
- Unresolved abuse (of any kind) from the past.
- Feeling “trapped” in a situation perceived as negative.
- Feeling that things will never “get better.”
- Feeling helpless.
- Serious legal problems, such as criminal prosecution or incarceration.
- Feeling “taken advantage of.”
- Inability to deal with a perceived “humiliating” situation or perceived ”failure”.
- Alcohol and/or drug abuse.
- A feeling of not being accepted by family, friends, or society.
- A horrible disappointment.
- Feeling like one has not lived up to his or her high expectations or those of another.
- Bullying. (Adults, as well as children, can be bullied.)
- Low self-esteem.
HOW DO YOU KNOW YOUR LEVEL OF SUICIDE RISK?
As a general rule, the level of danger suicidal people present to their own lives increases dramatically as they progress along the steps towards suicide. This is to say, people’s risk goes up as they move from
LEVEL 1: thinking about suicide (e.g., suicidal ideation)
LEVEL 2: planning their suicide
LEVEL 3: collecting the necessary equipment
LEVEL 4: actually trying to commit suicide.
The earlier in this progression they can be identified and helped, the better.