Expert Opinion About Suicide Warning Signs:
Clinical Psychologist, Deepali Batra in this article explains suicide warning signs and how to intervene when you find out that a close person is planning to commit suicide.
Do read this article, many of you may think everyone is happy in my family and friends, and I don’t need this information. But let me tell an unhappy person apparently appear happy. He wants to say “What you must realize about me is that I’m an extremely unhappy person.”
An individual may become suicidal when he feels overwhelmed by life’s challenges. This person lacks hope for future and suicide is seen as the only way out.
Why is it that we do not know what our close relatives and friends are suffering?
A serious incident (Suicide) happens and then we become aware of what people close to us were going through. We don’t realize that something was missing in our relationship with them and so the sufferer felt that we are emotionally unavailable.
Without even realizing we at times convey to our close people that their sufferings are nothing and that they should wait and things will get better on their own. When this message comes from one or two people the sufferer starts assuming that no one will understand me and people will judge me if I share my problems. With this fear the sufferer becomes more and more withdrawn and then at the end a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness creeps in. That is the time which is most sensitive, as it is during this time that people take extreme steps like suicide attempt.
Clinical Psychologist in Delhi further added that, an attempt to commit suicide should never be taken as attention-seeking. It should be seen as a ‘cry for help’. A way of communication that the only solution the sufferer is seeing is ending one’s life.
Can we be a cohesive and interconnected society which is sensitive to identifying and understanding emotional pain of people around us?
If we are conditioned to identify the pain someone is going through gradually it will become natural for us. The first step is to observe the behavioural change in people around us.
Ms. Deepali Batra, Sr. Clinical Psychologist suggested that following are the warning signs of people who might take a step to end their life i.e. attempt suicide
Most Observable Suicide Warning Signs
- They undergo drastic behavior changes
- They withdraw from family, friends or social activities
- They make plans to end their life
- They lose interest in personal appearance
- They’re bored by school, work or hobbies
- They’re preoccupied with death. Yes preoccupation with death can also be suicide warning signs.
- They start—or increase—drug or alcohol use
- They talk about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
- They talk about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live
- They talk about great guilt or shame
- They feel unbearable pain (emotional pain or physical pain
- They talk about being a burden to others, and to be away from them must be seen as one of the suicide warning signs.
- They act anxious or agitated
- There is a change in eating and/or sleeping habits
- They take great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast. So deliberate efforts to harm self can be one of the suicide warning signs.
- They display extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy
- They give away important possessions, saying goodbyes to friends and family,
How to Handle
If you suspect that a close family member or a friend may be thinking of harming self, share and talk about your concerns with him/her. Ms. Deepali Batra, Director PALS said that if a person is thinking of suicide, it’s important to ask them if they have a plan. If they say yes, help them in seeking help immediately.
As per Psychologists around the world one should stay calm and regulate one’s emotions during the talk with the person who is contemplating suicide. Acknowledge their sufferings and offer support even if they are showing suicide warning signs. Listening and showing your support plays a significant role here. Do not judge the person for having suicidal thoughts; avoid argumentative behavior during this sensitive period. Be vigilant of suicide warning signs.
Tell the person that help and support is available and that they can feel better with treatment from a mental health professional.
Initiating a conversation to help save someone’s life is a big step. Do not leave the person alone, make the person aware that treatment is available and that you are with him/her.
‘Suicide is preventable and we as a society have a powerful role in saving someone’s life’, just don’t ignore any of the suicide warning signs..– Deepali Batra