Suicide, the big “S” word no one wants to talk about but with as many suicides that happen yearly (42,773 according to afsp.org) almost everyone knows of someone who has committed suicide. According the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th cause of death for Americans. Men seem to be more successful, but more women attempt. Caucasian people are more likely to kill themselves than any other race.
Many people who are diagnosed clinically depressed or Bipolar also have the diagnosis of suicidal ideation. This basically means that one has suicidal thoughts that may come and go, but he or she does not have a specific plan on doing so. In my own situation, thoughts linger in my head but I have learned to push them aside. Sometimes during anxiety or racing thoughts from the Bipolar, I just want my brain to stop. It is hard to explain to someone who hasn’t been through it, but it is like hundreds of people are talking to you at one time but you can’t focus on any one thing. This would be my normal time of doing something that could harm myself, but I have realized that listening to music helps me. I can focus on the words of the songs and it helps take away the “craziness” going on in my head at that time. You won’t see me sitting in quiet for long periods of time unless I am asleep.
Do not make the mistake and think that people diagnosed with suicidal ideation won’t actually commit suicide. I have had two close family members commit suicide and I have attempted myself. Telling depressed people that suicide is selfish or cowardly is not going to help things. Most suicides are committed because they cannot take the stress and/or guilt anymore. Depressed people may believe that no one will miss them, or everyone will be better of without them. Truthfully it affects people beyond the immediate family and can cause the survivors to suffer guilt.
So how do I know if someone around me is suicidal or thinking about it? The Mayo Clinic lists these symptoms:
- Talking about suicide — for example, making statements such as “I’m going to kill myself,” “I wish I were dead” or “I wish I hadn’t been born”
- Getting the means to take your own life, such as buying a gun or stockpiling pills
- Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone
- Having mood swings, such as being emotionally high one day and deeply discouraged the next
- Being preoccupied with death, dying or violence
- Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation
- Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
- Changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns
- Doing risky or self-destructive things, such as using drugs or driving recklessly
- Giving away belongings or getting affairs in order when there’s no other logical explanation for doing this
- Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again
- Developing personality changes or being severely anxious or agitated, particularly when experiencing some of the warning signs listed above
Warning signs aren’t always obvious, and they may vary from person to person. Some people make their intentions clear, while others keep suicidal thoughts and feelings secret.
Stop thinking that people who mention suicide are trying to get attention. It should be taken seriously and help sought for the person who mentions it or has the signs listed above. For more information please visit these sites: