Warning Signs of Suicidal Tendencies and How to Deal With It

Suicide can be described as a desire to stop the pain one is going through by ending his/her life. Most features of suicide are recognizable and often treatable with psychological assistance.

However, the most common reason for suicide is distortions in thinking (cognitive distortions) because of depressive disorder. Consequent to countries gradually becoming industrialized all over the world, the rate of suicide has increased over the years.

In the US, the risk of suicide amongst the 15-19 years age group has increased by almost 150 per cent during 1960-75. Also, the suicide rate has increased four times in Canada for this age group since 1960-86.

 The Warning Signs:

• Death and terminal illness of loved ones.
• Divorce, separation, broken relationship, loss of job, financial loss.
• Risk taking behavior.
• Depression.
• Writing about death.
• Sudden mood changes: from outspoken to withdrawn and vice versa.
• Significant changes in daily activities.
• Eating and sleeping habits.
• Searching for lethal objects.
• Making a will, sudden visit to families and friends.
• Making unnecessary phone calls.
• Family history of depression and suicide.
• Person having impulsivity, drug addiction, severe stress, terminal illness, personality disorders.
• Self-medication if antidepressants like TCAs, MAOIs, SSRIs, SNRIs, and others.
• Adolescents around the age of 18 years face the first crisis phase and the symptoms range up to sadness of mood to suicidal ideas. They are also often not properly diagnosed and treated.

Suicidal Tendencies

Common Methods To Help Counseling: It is important to tell the person suffering with suicidal tendencies that the crisis phase is experienced by all and that it is just temporary; it can be managed and death is not a solution.

• Encourage the person suffering to talk freely and express his/ her anguish.

• Tell him/her gently to listen to others.

• Ensure that they mingle with people or have constant interaction with friends and family.

• Encourage them to take up alternatives and remind them that there is more to life what could be seen.

• Support them and take assistance from other agencies for crisis intervention.

• Discussing about suicide openly may help the suicidal person get rid of his/her suicidal thoughts.

The Role of Professionals:

• Contact family members immediately. If past history of medical treatment for mental illness was given, the doctor should be contacted.

• If there is any illness that was diagnosed previously or currently diagnosed, it should be treated as per medical advice.

• Supportive therapy should be given for managing depressive feeling s and feelings of failure. Don’t allow the individual to feel alienated.

• Mental health professionals may arrange for group counseling with people who had suicidal behavior earlier and are now doing well in life with individuals who have suicidal threats now. This way, people with suicidal behavior can benefit.

Empathetic Support:

• Let the suicidal person know that you are there to support him/her. At the same time, helping a suicidal person itself can induce suicidal emotions in the helper, so he/she should take care of himself/herself.

• Get some structured, professional help for helping the suicidal person.

• Make sure that the suicidal person takes treatment, maintains compliance and goes for regular follow ups.

• He/ She should be proactive to help the person who is suicidal as people with suicidal thoughts feel like out casts.

• Rehabilitate with lifestyle changes. Food, exercise, music, sports, reading, meditation, and yoga are few areas to work on.

Ensure The Suicidal Person Is Safe:

• Provide crisis intervention call centers phone numbers.
• Doctors/counselors phone numbers.
• Stop all triggering substances.
• Ensure he/she is clear regarding how to take self-care if there is an impulsive suicidal urge.
• If the person is on antidepressants, it is mandatory to observe for intense suicidal thoughts especially during the initial recovery phase when the person gets energy to attempt suicide.

Suicide Facts:

• Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death.
• WHO estimates that about one million people die every year by committing suicide?
• The second leading group to commit suicide is college going students.
• The most common age group to commit suicide is 18-30 years.
• One out of 12 college student plan suicide.
• Students who stay in hostels are more vulnerable and attempt suicide.

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