Suicide as a solution stems from deep feelings of languish and a grave amount of hopelessness. It is one of the most tragic ways of a life coming to an end. Someone may start contemplating suicide when they are at their wits end to trying to solve a problem and then come to a conclusion that suicide is the only option to stop the emotional, mental or physical pain that they are going through.
It is a very serious concern that requires us to be aware in order to help prevent it. World Health Organization has stated that suicide is the most preventable form of death and yet is one of the major reasons that contribute to rise in death toll across the globe.
Research has shown that suicide is rarely an impulsive decision and gets triggered as a response only when a person has been experiencing difficulties in dealing with unfavorable situation for a considerable time or higher intensity. There are certain risk factors that can make a person more susceptible to suicidal tendencies or ideation. Some of the major ones include psychiatric disorders such as clinical depression, bipolar disorder or psychosis, struggling with a long physical illness, unfavorable socioeconomic status, and history of suicide attempts.
Post the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a significant rise in suicide cases. According to the recently published data by the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) ‘Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India — 2021’ report, India recorded 1,64,033 deaths by suicide which showed a significant rise in cases from the year 20202 where the number of cases reported were around 1,53,000.
Cues and clues that can be considered as an indicator that someone close to you may be in a situation of crisis would include:
- History of mental illness
- History of self harm or is presently physically harming themselves
- Past attempts of suicide or harming themselves
- Increased substance use
- Isolating themselves
- Acting opposite of their usual behavior
- Talking about being in a lot of pain, hopelessness or no reason to live
- Wanting things to ‘end’
- Drastic change in appetite
- Erratic sleep cycle
Generally there is a gradual build up of the suicidal thoughts or ideation and it rarely happens suddenly (although sometimes that may be the case), these thoughts could be active or passive in nature and no it is not as simple as “someone thinking too negatively”.
Once you do identify that someone that you know, it could be our friend, a family member, a college, our partner or spouse, has been struggling you can focus on how to talk to them about it. One must keep in mind that this person is going through something that you don’t have a full understanding of, so before you ask anything be sure to be compassionate, empathetic and non-judgmental or condescending.
An appropriate way to approach the conversation and ask questions such as:
- How have you been doing lately?
- I know a lot has been going on in your life, would you like to talk about it?
- You mentioned that you want to end it, are you thinking about suicide?
- Have you ever harmed yourself or thought about suicide before?
- Are you thinking about hurting yourself?
A lot of us have this misconception that asking a question about suicide may actually make a person think about it. In reality, research has shown that by asking questions like the ones mentioned above can give the person hope and work positively towards averting the crisis.
In case you get a positive response to the questions about suicide, the next step would be to connect this person with a mental health professional like a psychologist or a psychiatrist so that they can get the right help and learn how to cope with the crisis situation. As important as this step is, a very crucial final step would be to make sure that you follow up with them so that they know they have someone they can rely on in time of need.
In situations that may require immediate help please take the concerned person to the nearest Emergency Room of the nearest hospital or call up an ambulance so that immediate help can be provided. Till the time the doctor does not give a heads up do not leave this person alone and make sure someone is with them at all times.
If you need immediate support, please contact these 24×7 helplines:
Fortis Stress Helpline: +918376804102
MPower Minds: 1800120820050
Awareness is the first step towards mitigating a crisis situation. The more we know the better we will be able to assist and as important as that is, it is equally important to tap into the resources that are available at our disposal; it is time to unlearn the stigmas surrounding suicide. Let’s not hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional and get the right tools to deal with the problems that life may throw our way.