#WorldSuicidePreventionDay – Common Warning Signs

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Today (10th Spet. 2018) is #WorldSuicidePreventionDay and as we highlighted last week (Harmmet Singh, a case to common) we as a Punjabi community fail to talk about such things, and by ignoring something as vital as this we are losing family and friends almost each week it feels.

Once suicide occurs, people often say they did not see it coming, and if only they had talked, today we give you a break down of things to look out for if you are concerned about someone who may be looking to take their own live.

Someone who is thinking about suicide will usually give some clues or signs to those around them, though these may be subtle. Suicide prevention starts with recognising the warning signs and triggers and taking them seriously.

Feelings:

Hopelessness
Helplessness
Loneliness
Disconnection
Worthlessness
Powerlessness
Desperation
Irritability
Shame
Rejection
Sadness
Isolation
Anger
Exhaustion
Trapped

Behaviours:

Prior suicidal behaviour
Alcohol or drug misuse
Withdrawal from family and friends
Quitting activities which were previously important
Putting affairs in order
Writing suicide notes or goodbye letters to loved ones
Self-harming
Uncharacteristic risk-taking or recklessness
Fighting and/or breaking the law
Unexplained crying
Emotional outbursts, mood swings
Increased irritability

Conversation Points 

Helplessness: “Nothing I do makes a bit of difference, it’s beyond my control and no one can help me.”
Talking about suicide or death
Planning for suicide
Feeling trapped: “I can’t see any way out of this mess.”
Feeling like a burden: “They’d be better off without me.”
Lack of belonging: “I just don’t fit in anywhere.”
Hopeless: “What is the point? Things are never going to get any better.”
Guilt: “It’s my fault, I’m to blame.”
Escape: “I just can’t take this anymore.”
Alone: “I’m on my own… no one cares about me; no one would even notice if I was gone.”
Damaged: “I’ve been irreparably damaged… I’ll never be the same again.”

Physical Changes:

Major changes to sleeping patterns; usually too little, though maybe too much
Loss of energy
Loss of interest in personal hygiene or appearance
Loss of interest in sex
Sudden and extreme changes in eating habits; either a loss of appetite or an increase in appetite
Weight gain or weight loss
Chronic illness and pain

Responding to warning signs

Speak up if you are worried
Talking to someone about his or her suicidal thoughts can be challenging but if you are unsure whether someone is going to kill him or herself, the best way to find out is to ask.

You might be worried that you will ‘put the idea of suicide into a person’s head’ if you ask about suicide. However, you cannot 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 in fact reduce the risk of suicide.

How to start a conversation about suicide
“You haven’t seemed yourself lately and I’m worried about you.”
“I have noticed that you have been doing (X/Y/Z), and I’m wondering how you are going?”

Questions you can ask
“What can I do to help you?”
“I’d like to help you get through this, is there something I can do for you?”

What you can say that helps
“I want to help you and I am here for you when you want to talk.”
The following questions can be used to establish if the person may be suicidal:
Do you intend to take your life? (INTENTION)
Do you have a plan to take your life? (PLAN)
Do you have access to the means to carry out your plan? (MEANS)
Do you have a timeframe for taking your life? (TIMEFRAME)

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