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Monday, November 9, 2009

Questions and Answers about Suicide

Suicide. Everyone is afraid to talk about it. No one wants to talk about what takes the lives of nearly 30,000 Americans each year (Suicide Awareness Voices for Education, 2003). Is suicide right or wrong? In my opinion, this is not a moral question because suicide occurs for the following reason: having too much pain (emotional, physical, or psychological) and not enough coping resources. As a result of this, many choose to end their life because they feel like they have no choice. Suicide is fatally unique because humans are programmed to survive. One cannot kill themselves by holding their breath simply because your mind will not let you. But suicide, the ending of one’s life, goes against all of our biological hard-wiring. So why do people do it? With these questions and answers, I will discuss some common questions about suicide and provide coping resources and information.

What are suicide risk factors?

You need to know about this important subject because you could potentially save your own life or someone you care about. Let’s talk about risk factors. Risk factors include: depression, substance abuse disorder, other mental disorders, prior suicide attempt, family history of mental disorder, family history of suicide, being subjected to violence, firearms present in the home, and exposure to suicidal behavior of others (National Institute of Mental Health, 2009).

What are signs that someone is suicidal?

• Depressed or sad mood
• A change in the person’s sleeping patterns (e.g., sleeping too much or too little, or having difficulty sleeping the night through)
• A significant change in the person’s weight or appetite
• Speaking and/or moving with unusual speed or slowness
• Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities
• Withdrawal from family and friends
• Fatigue or loss of energy
• Diminished ability to think or concentrate, slowed thinking or indecisiveness
• Feelings of worthlessness, self-reproach, or guilt
• Thoughts of death, suicide, or wishes to be dead (Grohol, 2007)
70% of people who commit suicide tell someone about their plans, or give some kind of warning signs (Grohol, 2007). You need to watch out for your own mental health. Take care of yourself. However, you also need to watch out for your family and friends. Little clues could show you that they need help.

What can be done if someone feels suicidal?

If you ever feel suicidal, there are resources out there to help you. If you feel like you are going to hurt yourself or others, call 911. If not in immediate stress, try to see your doctor IMMEDIATELY. In the meantime, you can call 1-800-273-TALK, this is a free, 24 hour hotline available to anyone who is suicidal or any other emotional distress. You can also e-mail “The Samaritans.” This is a group of volunteers that provide confidential, emotional support. You can talk to a trained Samaritan volunteer via e-mail. This service is free. The e-mails sent are answered daily. In 2002, Samaritan volunteers responded to e-mails from more than 100,000 persons. Click here to e-mail the Samaritans:
http://www.samaritans.org/talk_to_someone/email.aspx
You can also talk to a minister, rabbi, priest, or other religious counselor who can help you cope.
If someone you know is suicidal; do NOT leave them alone. Get them help immediately. Try to get the person to seek immediate help from his or her doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911. Remove firearms or other tools they could use to commit suicide.

A Final Note

In 2006, suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2009). Suicide is completely preventable. What we all need to do is step back from our busy, hectic lives and take a deep breath. Find a hobby, exercise more, eat healthy, and take care of yourself. Only one life is promised to you; you must find a way to get through the hard times. Furthermore, watch out for each other. Someone may be screaming for help and you need to notice so you can help him or her. Knowledge is power; knowing about risk factors and warning signs could potentially save your life or another’s life. There is a way out from all the troubles you are facing; if you are suicidal please get help!

Resources

Grohol, J. M. (2007). Common Signs of Someone who May be Suicidal. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2007/10/08/common-signs-of-someone-who-may-be-suicidal/

National Institute of Mental Health. (2009). Suicide in the U.S. Statistics and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-in-the-us-statistics-and-prevention/index.shtml

Suicide Awareness Voices for Education. (2009). Suicide Facts. Retrieved from http://www.save.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewpage&page_id=705d5df4-055b-f1ec-3f66462866fcb4e6

The Samaritans. (2009). Find it Impossible to Talk About Your Problems? Retrieved from http://www.samaritans.org/talk_to_someone/email.aspx