Warning Signs of Suicide

June 1st, 2016

These past few weeks have been very sad in Jamaica’s history. We’ve had 4 suicides in approximately one month. There was the 2nd form student from Wolmers’ Boys school on April 25, the father of the 3 year old who killed her and days later killed himself on April 29; politician Faye Reid-Jacobs May 8; and most recently the male student from UTech May 12.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) some 800, 000 people die by suicide per year. Suicide was also the 2nd leading cause of death among the 15-29 year old age group in 2012 worldwide. While our rates in Jamaica are very low 2.1/1000,000 population, for each suicide that occurs, it is one too many.

Signs

Sometimes friends and loved ones who are left behind ask themselves the magic question, “ how could I have known”? “How couldn’t I have seen the signs”? Today, I’ll share some of the most common warning signs for suicide.

  1. Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
  2. Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  3. Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  4. Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  5. Talking about being a burden to others.
  6. Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  7. Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  8. Sleeping too little or too much.
  9. Withdrawn or feeling isolated.
  10. Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  11. Displaying extreme mood swings.
  12. Preoccupation with death.
  13. Suddenly happier, calmer.
  14. Loss of interest in things one cares about.
  15. Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
  16. Making arrangements; setting one’s affairs in order.
  17. Giving things away, such as prized possessions.

Myths/Misconceptions

So, now that you know the signs, let’s clear up some common myths/misconceptions about suicide:

  1. If someone talks about suicide, they don’t really mean it, they only want attention. FALSE.
  2. People who attempt suicide are weak. FALSE.
  3. People who attempt suicide are crazy/ have a mental disorder. FALSE.
  4. If someone has made up their mind to commit suicide, nothing can stop them. FALSE.
  5. Talking to someone about suicide gives them ideas. FALSE.

(From Suicide Awareness Voices of Education)

Instead of being judgmental , how about having some compassion for those who have chosen to take their own lives because they felt there was no other way out? Consider spending some quality time with the survivors as well as the many others who at this very moment could benefit from our care, if we only pay more attention and take the signs seriously.

Karyl Powell-Booth is an Assoc. Clinical Psychologist and PhD Research student at the Suicide Behaviour & Research Lab, University of Glasgow, UK. She can be contacted at  powellboothkaryl@gmail.com or found on Twitter @kapow7000


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