When a young girl jumped off a building last week, taking her own life, she had apparently researched "89 websites" to find out different means to die. She had considered all the ways of committing suicide, speculating the success rate of each and then zeroing in on jumping from the building. Her Google history showed searches about jumping in front of a train, consuming poison, overdosing on sleeping pills, hanging by a rope, electrocuting herself, drowning etc. She even contemplated about the way she would jump from the building- diving head first or plummeting down it.
Just reading these gory details, brought a lump to my throat. That a person could be so desperate to end her life, that she saw no other option, no other reason to continue living, was saddening.Could she have lived if someone had heard her silent screams for help?
Studies say that most people who die of suicide wouldn’t do so if they knew there was an alternative way, something that they cannot see, but if anyone could make them see it, they would understand. They go through enormous amounts of suffering loathing, hopelessness and isolation and all they want is for the pain to stop.
They aren’t asking for help, they aren’t screaming out aloud, so how are we to know if a loved one actually needs help? But just because they don’t ask for it, doesn’t mean they do not need it. Most people lead quite normal lives, and leave their family and friends shocked when they kill themselves. The onus is really on each one of us to spot the warning signs.
If a loved one says things like, “you’ll be sorry when I’m gone”, “I’m stuck”, “I’m better off dead,” “If we meet again,” I wish I hadn’t been born,” “I can’t see a way out”, whether said casually or seriously, could count as a threat. It is a clue that the person could contemplate suicide.
If someone’s harming oneself or talks about killing oneself, writes a lot about death and dying, seeks out information about ways to die, it could point to major warning signs about what is going on in their minds.
You have all the more reason for concern if the person is moody, depressed, has previously attempted suicide and suffers from substance abuse, alcohol dependence, bipolar disorder, or family history of suicide.
Another potent warning sign is the person getting their affairs in order, like making a will, giving away prized possessions, calling or visiting unusually to say goodbye, and behaving like they are not likely to see them ever again. Some people may suddenly become happy or calm after prolonged depression, and it could mean that they have decided to end their life.
Some might tend to get withdrawn from family and friends, stop socialising, express hopelessness or worthlessness, guilt, shame, or self-hatred.
How you can help-
If you spot warning signs in someone you care about, do not ignore them. Talk to them. Don’t worry if you read it all wrong. It is better to talk before it is too late than keep quiet thinking about consequences. Ask them if they are harbouring suicidal thoughts. Many people feel that talking about suicide may give them ideas. But the opposite is true. Talking about it gives them hope, it tells them that someone knows their state of mind and is willing to listen and help. Also most people are willing to seek help, they just don’t know how.
Let the person know you are listening. Let them vent their anger, frustrations and despair. Sometimes just talking about it to someone who can lend a sympathetic ear can help them unburden.
Let them know you care. It is important to let the person feel loved and wanted. It is important to let them know that their life matters to you.
Let them know there are alternatives. Let them know things will be better and these are temporary feelings. Tell them to hold on.
Help them talk about their problems. Once you know what’s bothering them, find out how you can help. Don’t be judgmental. Be sympathetic and accepting instead. They need to know that whatever is bothering them is not the end of the road. It is just a road block and they can get around it with help.
Never argue with them, or emotionally blackmail them, or lecture them on life and its values, or give advice. That is the last thing they want to hear.
If you are not confident of talking, involve a psychologist, or a crisis line. Never leave the person alone. And make sure they have no access to potential means of suicide, like pills, knives, razors, guns, etc.
A healthy lifestyle change like proper diet, medication, exercise, good sleep and positive reinforcement will help them get back on track.
Here's an emotional TED talk video by Mark Henick, who has "been there, done that" and survived. He says, "90% of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable and treatable mental illness at the time of their death. And with medications and psychotherapy, these treatments work, and so we need to make these treatments more available to people in a more informed way."
I think, you need to see this...
10th September is World Suicide Prevention Day. But I think everyday should be one. In whatever way we can, if we can work towards creating awareness, to remove the stigma surrounding suicide, and help more people to call out for help, we could really save precious lives.