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The annual World Suicide Prevention Day will be celebrated on Thursday, September 10, 2020. The International Association for Suicide Prevention is responsible for organising the day. IASP intentions for the day is to educate people around the globe that suicide is preventable. In 2018 the Jamaica Psychological Association revealed that 53% of 1,090 young adults between ages 13 and 29 admitted that they have had suicidal thoughts. One of the leading cause for suicide is depression, which may be a result of any one of the following factors: childhood trauma, medical conditions, unemployment, family dysfunction, drug use, crime and violence. Research from the University of the West Indies in 2013 revealed that 71.9% of high school students were experiencing moderate to severe symptoms of depression.
It can be very upsetting when someone says that they are considering suicide. When you are in such a predicament you may not be sure how to help, whether you should take them seriously, or you might be fretting because you don’t know if your intervention might make matters worse. Don’t fear. Here’s how you can help.
- Look for the warning signs.While it is not always possible to know if someone is suicidal. Listed below are the most notable signs:
- Talking about wanting to die
- Social Isolation
- Talking about feeling hopeless and empty
- Having mood swings
- Changes in Sleep pattern – A change in sleep pattern may be a sign of depression but also a sign of suicidal behaviour
- Emotional distance
- Engaging in risky behaviour, such as taking drugs or cutting one’s self.
- Acquiring the means to end their own life, such as buying a weapon and stocking up on pills.
- Donating their personal items to loved ones or strangers
- Ask questions
If you observed any of these signs, you may question the individual if he/she is considering suicide. Be compassionate and avoid being judgemental. You may ask the following questions:
- Are you thinking about suicide?
- How are coping with what’s happening in your life?
- Do you want to hurt yourself?
- Have you ever thought about going to sleep and never waking up?
- Have you thought about how you would end your life?
- Have you tried to harm yourself before?
- Seek help immediately
- Never leave the individual alone
- Get in contact with a trained mental health professional/Counsellor
- Do not attempt to handle the situation on your own. Inform someone that can be trusted with the information
- Call the emergency number right away if the person has physically harmed themselves
Don’t presume that the individual has been automatically healed from suicidal habits after receiving counselling or taking medication for depression. Ensure that you are alert and keep in mind the warning signs just in case the individual falls back into old habits. Make certain that the individual is going to their counselling sessions. It is important that the individual is constantly being supervised especially if they are young adults, children or senior citizens. Also, be conscientious that all self-harming apparatus has to be removed from the environment, lock away knives, gun and medications.
Remember your intervention might save the individual’s life. For those seeking assistance you may contact: Choose Life International, Mico Youth Counselling Centre or any other mental health institution.