Be Aware of the Warning Signs
There is no typical suicide victim. It happens to young and old, rich and poor. Fortunately there are some common warning signs which, when acted upon, can save lives. Here are some signs to look for:
A suicidal person might be suicidal if he or she:
Talks about committing suicide
Has trouble eating or sleeping
Experiences drastic changes in behavior
Withdraws from friends and/or social activities
Loses interest in hobbies, work, school, etc.
Prepares for death by making out a will and final arrangements
Gives away prized possessions
Has attempted suicide before
Takes unnecessary risks
Has had recent severe losses
Is preoccupied with death and dying
Loses interest in their personal appearance
Increases their use of alcohol or drugs
What To Do
Here are some ways to be helpful to someone who is threatening suicide:
Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
Be non-judgmental. Don't debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or feelings are good or bad. Don't lecture on the value of life.
Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
Don't dare him or her to do it.
Don't act shocked. This will put distance between you.
Don't be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
Be Aware of Feelings
Many people at some time in their lives think about committing suicide. Most decide to live, because they eventually come to realize that the crisis is temporary and death is permanent. On other hand, people having a crisis sometimes perceive their dilemma as inescapable and feel an utter loss of control. These are some of the feelings and things they experience:
Can't stop the pain
Can't think clearly
Can't make decisions
Can't see any way out
Can't sleep, eat or work
Can't get out of depression
Can't make the sadness go away
Can't see a future without pain
Can't see themselves as worthwhile
Can't get someone's attention
Can't seem to get control
If you experience these feelings, get help!
If someone you know exhibits these symptoms, offer help!
A community mental health agency
A private therapist or counselor
A school counselor or psychologist
A family physician
A suicide prevention or crisis center
The purpose of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) is to understand and prevent suicide. AAS promotes research, public awareness programs, and education and training for professionals, survivors, and interested laypersons. AAS serves as a national clearinghouse for information on suicide. It has many resources and publications which are available to the general public and to its members. For membership, publications and resource information, contact:
American Association Of Suicidology
4201 Connecticut, Ave., NW. Suite 408
Washington, DC 20008