Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Teenagers pose a greater risk of completed suicides because often they act impulsively without considering all of the consequences. Suicide affects the entire community in which it occurs family, friends, teachers, neighbors, acquaintances; everyone is touched by the loss of anyone to suicide. Suicide can be preventable and with knowledge of signs, and symptoms and what to do, people’s lives can be saved. Currently, more men die when attempting suicide but more women overall attempt suicide. In the United States, approximately 18 per 100,000 males complete suicide each year, and four per 100,000 females complete suicide each year. Several risk factors correlate towards a person committing suicide, including severe illness, depression, hopelessness, substance abuse, and problem gambling.
If you are concerned about someone, you know that maybe suicidal, seek help immediately. Warning signs that can indicate imminent risk include:
· Threatening to hurt or kill self
· Looking for ways to kill self; requesting access to pills, weapons or other means
· Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide
· Rage, anger, seeking revenge
· Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
· Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
· Increasing alcohol or drug abuse
· Withdrawing from friends, family or society
· Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or to sleep all the time
· Dramatic changes in mood
· No reason for living, no sense of purpose in life
The next step if you are concerned about someone can be the hardest. Ask the question. “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It will not be easy, and you may feel embarrassed or scared that by asking you will give them the idea to kill themselves. By asking, you can start the conversation that can lead to your child or teen getting the help they need. Suicide is how someone was maybe seeking to solve a problem and when you ask about their intentions you may be giving them a new way to cope with and solve their problem. Listen to them allow them to express their feelings, thoughts, and ideas, now is not the time to tell your child or teen what to do but to hear them out and help them seek help.
Hopelessness about the present and future are reliable predictors for suicidal ideation. All suicidal ideation and threats need to be taken seriously. Question the individual asking, what they feel the problem is and what could help them to solve it, get them actively engaged in thinking about solutions to their problems that do not involve killing themselves.
If your child shows signs that make you concerned about their safety get help as soon as possible, call 911, go to the nearest emergency room or psychiatric hospital, call a local mental health professional or your pediatrician. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Help and hope are available.