Suicidal behavior refers to taking actions related to ending one’s own life. Suicidal thoughts / ideation and behaviors should be considered a psychiatric emergency. I would refer it to as a silent killer because some of them just don't show any alerting warnings. So, do not blame yourself if you were not able to help the person when it is too late. Most of us therapists have been trained to look out for signs and help people to find the positive things in life to hold on to. I would like to share them here to help you look out for each other.
If you or someone you know is exhibiting worrying signs on ending their lives, please seek immediate assistance from a healthcare provider closest to you. I am sharing some of the outward warning signs that a person may be contemplating suicide taken from healthline.com and Samaritans of Singapore, and adding them here for convenience. All these signs may be reflected by the way they speak, their actions and their moods:
talking about feeling hopeless, trapped, or alone
saying they have no reason to go on living
making a will or giving away personal possessions
searching for a means of doing personal harm, such as buying a gun/rope etc.
sleeping too much or too little
eating too little or eating too much, resulting in significant weight gain or loss
engaging in reckless behaviors, including excessive alcohol or drug consumption
avoiding social interactions with others
expressing rage or intentions to seek revenge
showing signs of extreme anxiousness or agitation
having dramatic mood swings
talking about suicide as a way out
Here are some risk factors to look out for:
previous attempt or family history of suicide
mental health conditions
serious or chronic health conditions
distressing life events (divorce, job loss, death of close ones, etc.)
prolonged stress factors (bullying, abuse, unemployment, etc.)
There is Hope
Suicide is preventable. Often times, no one wants to end their lives, they just want to get out of the overwhelming or painful situation they are in. But they can't do it alone. That is why you and I need to play the role of observing our close ones, and lending an ear / shoulder for them. If you are unable to assist, help them to find and visit a mental health therapist.
One of the things we learnt in class was to ask openly "Are you thinking of suicide / ending your life?" Talk openly and don’t be afraid to ask direct questions. It is a myth if you think that by asking they will really think about it and go ahead to do it. If someone is contemplating suicide, the idea will already be there. If they aren’t, talking about it won’t put the idea into their mind. Suicide isn’t caused by asking the question. Often times, that is all they need to hear, that someone noticed and cared enough to ask. By asking the question, it can interrupt the path towards suicide and buy time for the person to seek help.
To start with, try something like, ‘You seem a bit down lately. Can we talk about it?’ Then, if you suspect, even in the slightest, that the person might be suicidal ask the question directly. ‘People who feel like that sometimes think about suicide. Do you have any thoughts of suicide?’ or just, ‘Are you thinking that you don’t want to live anymore?’ During the conversation, make sure you:
stay calm and speak in a reassuring tone
acknowledge that their feelings are legitimate
offer support and encouragement
tell them that help is available and that they can feel better with treatment
Dr Scott Pollard, a psychologist, wrote that if a person has thought of ending his/her life, ask more questions as though you were asking about a trip the person was going on: – where, when, how. Most importantly, get help immediately (call a national suicide support line or crisis line, take the person to a doctor or hospital, or if they won’t go, call the doctor or hospital for help). Most importantly, do not leave the person alone.
Talking about suicide is the surest way to help others keep safe. It doesn’t matter if the words you choose aren’t the perfect ones. It is about the connection and anything said with compassion and a genuine intent will only help someone. Thank you for keeping a look out for each other and for saving lives.
For help in Singapore : https://www.sos.org.sg/about/our-services 24-HOUR HOTLINE - 1800-221 4444
For help and information in Malaysia: http://www.suicide.org/hotlines/international/malaysia-suicide-hotlines.html
For help and information in Philippines, Indonesia and India: https://www.ourbetterworld.org/story/hotlines-help
If you live in the United States, try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255). They have trained counselors available 24/7.Stop a Suicide Today is another helpful resource.