Suicide has become a global epidemic. It is estimated that there are about 800,000 suicides worldwide every year and of these about 135,000 (17%) are in India. There is one person committing suicide every 40 seconds worldwide. For each person that died by suicide there may have been more than 20 others attempting suicide. On a sad note, there is one student committing suicide every hour in India, which is a cause for alarm.
We all face crises and problems in life. The unfortunate thing is that among people who commit suicide these situations cause such hopelessness and pain that they can’t see any other way out.
Suicide can happen with warnings and without warnings
Suicide with warnings:
Some suicides and suicide attempts don’t come completely out of the blue. Suicidal patients consciously or unconsciously drop hints.
The following are a few behaviors that may put families and friends on notice that there is a risk of suicide.
- Talking about suicide
Making statements like “I would be better off dead.”
- Seeking the means to commit suicide
Trying to get access to pills, guns or objects to hang self
- Talking about no hope for the future
Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and being trapped
Feelings of worthlessness, guilt shame and self-hatred
- Getting affairs in order
Giving away prized possessions or making arrangements for family members just in case.
- Saying goodbye
Unusual and unexpected visits or calls to family and friends, saying good bye to people as if they won’t be seen again.
People who exhibit the above signs of potential suicide are often communicating their distress hoping to get a response. These signs should never be ignored as these are valuable lives that could be saved with timely intervention.
Suicide without warnings
Sadly, suicide without warnings is not uncommon. Many people who commit suicide never talk about what they are feeling or planning.
Most experts on suicide agree that death by suicide often defies prediction. It is rather unfortunate that the people who are most intent on committing suicide know that they have to keep their plans to themselves to successfully kill themselves.
Suicide almost always raises anguished questions among family members and friends left behind, What did I miss? What could I have done?
Factors that can put a person at a higher risk for suicide in the short term
- An episode of depression, severe anxiety or psychosis
- A significant loss such as death of a spouse or child or loss of a job.
- A personal crisis such as a financial crisis, break up with a loved one or divorce.
- Loss of social support
- An illness that can effect mood like cancer, stroke or heart attack
- Exposure to suicidal behavior of others like friends, peers or celebrities.
People left behind after suicide
Suicide has a devastating effect on families, friends and communities. The loss of a loved one through suicide is like no other and the grief process can be very traumatic and complex. People coping with this kind of loss because of suicide often need a lot of emotional support and counseling.