KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Did you know suicide is an issue that does not care how much money you have, or what you look like, or who you voted for?
It is an issue that is affecting us all and we need to unite in solving.
It is essential that we equip ourselves with the knowledge needed to help those who are dealing with suicidal thoughts.
We must understand the various risk factors, available treatments, and current studies.
"Suicide most often occurs when stressors and health issues converge to create an experience of hopelessness and despair."
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Every 40 seconds we lose a life to suicide in the world.
Every 12 minutes we lose a life to suicide in America.
For every 1 suicide there is around 25 attempts.
There are twice as many suicides than there are homicides.
The suicide rates for children 10-14 doubled from 2007 to 2014.
More Men have died by suicide yet more women have attempted.
More young people die from suicide then from Cancer, AIDS, chronic lung disease, pneumonia, heart diseases all combined.
There is an estimate of around 3,041 attempts per day by young people grade 9 - 12.
The following are risk factors according to the CDC:
Family history of suicide
Family history of child maltreatment
Previous suicide attempt(s)
History of mental disorders, particularly clinical depression
History of alcohol and substance abuse
Feelings of hopelessness
Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
Cultural and religious beliefs (e.g., belief that suicide is noble resolution of a personal dilemma)
Local epidemics of suicide
Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people
Barriers to accessing mental health treatment
Loss (relational, social, work, or financial)
Easy access to lethal methods
Unwillingness to seek help because of the stigma attached to mental health and substance abuse disorders or to suicidal thoughts
BASIC WARNING SIGNS:
Every individual is different yet there are some warning signs to look out for.
Extreme mood swings
Giving away valuables
Impulsive or reckless behavior
There are two common types of psychotherapies that are heavily practiced and are linked to improving functioning and quality of life.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - According to Psychology Today, “ Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that treats problems and boosts happiness by modifying dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and thoughts... CBT focuses on solutions, encouraging patients to challenge distorted cognitions and change destructive patterns of behavior.”
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy - DBT is certain type of CBT yet it is based on the following four principals distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, mindfulness and emotion regulation.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR LOVED ONE IS EXPERIENCING SUICIDAL THOUGHTS?
THE POWER OF LISTENING.
Listening has the potential to do wonders. It allows people to release and not walk through the pain alone. Psychology Today wrote an amazing article that further elaborated on the impact.
“ Identify and discuss the sources of pain that exist behind suicidal ideation. When we shift the focus to the sources of pain, then we can discuss solutions other than ending a life. Often, the very act of putting words to vague and overwhelming feelings shines a light of rationality on our problems and expands our willingness to explore a broader range of solutions.” - Psychology Today
Dr. Mark Goulston, a suicide prevention specialist speaks about the importance and power of listening. In this article he describes his experiences.
“I learned to listen into their eyes for their hurt, fear, anger, pain, guilt, shame, aloneness, loneliness and exhaustion. When I did that, one or more were always present and always screaming to be heard, and even more, to be felt so they didn’t have to feel so alone in hell.
When they “felt felt” and less alone, suffering they couldn’t deal with became pain they could. And nearly every time, when that suffering stopped, they began to cry and sob, feel relief and with that could step back from the impulse to annihilate themselves.”
To read the article please click here.
WHILE YOU ARE LISTENING HERE ARE A FEW THINGS YOU SHOULD STAY AWAY FROM SAYING:
Be careful to stay away from any sayings that may add additional weight and stress to someone who is having suicide ideation. Even though we may have the right intentions, saying the following statements possesses the possibility of causing more damage.
“It could be always be worse” or “People in other countries have it worst than you,” etc.
“Think about how devastated I would be if I lost you.”
People are already overwhelmed by unbearable pain, therefore saying certain statements may potentially pile on additional guilt. It is important to understand people are not craving to die they simply want to stop the pain. People who are having suicidal thoughts do not want to hurt their loved ones nor do they want to compare their current circumstances. Highlighting another person’s pain does not eliminate the current pain one feels within. If a friend broke their leg and you share with them that your other friend broke their leg and arm, it does not magically take away the physical pain of their broken leg.
WHAT HAS HELPED US:
We have been there. We understand. These are a few of the tools that have helped us along the way.
HELPING PEOPLE SEE THE VALUE IN THEIR LIFE.
Everyone has value. Yet, some people are never told their life has meaning, and others forget they matter. You can help your loved one by learning more about what they are passionate about and finding volunteer opportunities in that area. When one gives back and helps others they are able to see the power their life holds. There are countless stories of people who found meaning by helping others. The impact through volunteering and giving back is well worth exploring.
“The Safety Plan is a written, prioritized list of coping strategies and resources for reducing suicide risk. It is a prevention tool that is designed to help those who struggle with their suicidal thoughts and urges to survive.” - Barbara Stanley, Ph.D. and Gregory K. Brown, Ph.D. A few of the areas to include are: Identifying personal warning signs, professional help, trusting people you can talk to, and ways to distract yourself.
Check out some safety plan templates and resources:
BE THERE. BE TRULY THERE.
Whether it is picking your friend up and not allowing them to be alone, or throwing a dance party just the two of you, or doing the research yourself to help them find resources. It is important to be there. Use everything you know about them, i.e. what they love doing or something on their bucket list and use creativity and innovation to show them they are not alone and why they should hold on.