October 10 is Mental Health Day. Learn to recognize the Clues that a person is considering suicide.
The statistics around suicide are troubling. Did you know that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of nearly 45,000 people? Also, for every completed suicide there are 25 attempted suicides. There are roughly 123 suicides each day in this country.
These are staggering number and they are unfortunate considering there is so much help available for people suffering from mental illness and contemplating suicide. This World Mental Health Day, it’s time to put an end to the suicide epidemic.
Understanding how to identify someone is suicidal is the first step of intervention. A few clues that someone is thinking of ending their life include:
If someone becomes obsessed with a particular death or the concept altogether, this can be a warning sign something is not quite right. A recent example was Kate Spade, who was preoccupied with the suicide of Robin Williams.
If an individual suddenly develops the desire to give away possessions or form a will, this can be another indication of planning a suicide attempt. The depressed individual may go as far as to say goodbye to specific people.
Constant rumination and discussion of feelings of hopelessness, no purpose, or no motivation are a substantial sign of declining mental health and that suicide could be around the corner.
A sufferer’s usual favorite things are no longer admired or desired and no longer producer feelings of pleasure.
Erratic moods and disrupted sleep schedules are also signs of depression declining to potential suicide.
Extreme feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness and weight changes.
Comorbidity of substance abuse and depression is a warning sign to watch for suicidal tendencies. This is an indication of the user trying to seek an escape from feelings or a situation with which they are unhappy.
Removing the stigma
One of the main reasons people don’t seek treatment for their mental illness and commit suicide is because of the stigma surrounding mental illness. Every time we lose a celebrity or public figure to suicide, society becomes more conscious of mental illness and there is increased awareness made to reduce this stigma. Sadly, after just a few short days, the momentum seems to wane away and people are once again embarrassed to discuss their mental health struggles.
We need to continue to push the fact that the brain is like any other organ in the body. Just as your heart or kidneys may have certain issues, so too can your brain. If the stigma is broken, less people have to suffer in silence. The only way to get better and get your life back on track is to get help.
What help is available?
If you are suicidal, realize that there is an emergence of wonderful treatments available to help you get better. There is traditional pharmacology and various types of psychotherapy available. For those who feel like they have tried everything, there are even newer treatments like Ketamine IV infusions which can help patients feel better almost immediately and is showing great promise in treating difficult to treat cases of mental illness.
No matter where you turn for help, just reach out and start someplace because with suicide, there is no going back. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, mental health professional or anyone you feel comfortable with. The truth is, whether you believe it or not, people do genuinely care about you and your well-being and they don’t want to lose you.
Regardless if a loved one seems to be suffering a great deal or just ever so slightly, it should always be taken seriously and referred to a mental health professional. If you hear anyone talking about suicide or you believe someone is suicidal, or if you are suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.
About the Author
Prakash Masand M.D. is a psychiatrist and the founder of the Centers of Psychiatric Excellence. https://www.copepsychiatry.com