There is always a better option than suicide

Dr Pritam Chandak, a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, advises on how to identify a suicidal person and how to speak with them

There is always a better option than suicide
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The intense emotional pain that one experience when depressed/stressed can distort his thinking, so sometimes, it becomes harder to see possible solutions to problems or to connect with those who can offer support.

At times, committing suicide may seem like the only way to stop the pain. Although it might seem as if your pain and sorrow will never end, it is important to realise that pain is temporary. Solutions are often found, feelings change, and unexpected positive events occur.

If you think that recovery is impossible, it’s time to reach out! About eight lakh people commit suicide worldwide every year, of this, around 17 % are residents of India. The male to female suicide ratio is about 2:1 in India. On an average, a total number of suicides which occur in India per day are 300.

Suicide warning signs

People who kill themselves, exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or do. The more warning signs, the greater the risk.

What to watch for if you feel someone is at risk:

If a person talks about:

  • Being a burden to others.
  • Feeling trapped.
  • Experiencing unbearable pain.
  • Having no reason to live.
  • Killing themselves.

Specific behaviours to look out for include:

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means.
  • Acting recklessly.
  • Withdrawing from activities.
  • Isolating from family and friends.
  • Sleeping too much or too little.
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
  • Giving away prized possessions.
  • Aggression

Misconceptions about suicide

“People who talk about it won’t do it.”

Suicide threats should always be taken seriously. The truth is that few individuals are single-minded in their decision to kill themselves; many are asking for help even as they contemplate suicide.

“People who really want to kill themselves are beyond help.”

Fortunately, this is not the case. Suicidal impulses may be intense, but short-lived. The majority of individuals, who are suicidal even for extended periods, recover and can benefit from treatment.

Prevention

Five action steps for helping someone in emotional pain:

Ask: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It is not an easy question, but studies show that asking at-risk individuals, if they are suicidal, does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts.

Keep them safe: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the at-risk person has a plan and removing or disabling the lethal means can make a difference.

Be there: Listen carefully and learn what the individual is thinking and feeling. Findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may, in fact, reduce rather than increase suicidal thoughts.

Help them connect: You can help make a connection with a trusted individual like a mental health professional (Psychiatrist/ Psychologist), family members or friends.

Stay Connected: Staying in touch after a crisis or after being discharged from the care can make a difference. Studies show the number of suicidal deaths goes down when someone follows up with the at-risk person.