This is the extension of my previous article that was titled: Suicidal tendencies among youth, a matter of concern. Since suicide attempts by youth are growing with each passing day and therefore is becoming a matter of great concern. Suicide can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, race, income and family background, but some young people are at greater risk of self-harm and suicidal behaviour. Youth suicide affects families. It is the leading cause of death among young people. In recent times, many young people aged between 18–30 died by suicide. Research shows that in this age group, for every one suicide there are approximately 100–200 suicide attempts. Although these numbers are alarming, the good news is that youth suicide is mostly preventable. Anyone, not just mental health professionals, can provide emotional and practical support to a young person experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Warning signs of youth suicide: It is not always possible to know when someone is thinking about suicide but some of the possible warning signs include:
• talking or writing about death or about feeling trapped with no way out
• feeling hopeless and withdrawing from family, friends and the community
• increasing drug and alcohol use
• giving away personal possessions
• doing dangerous, life threatening things
• having delusions or hallucinations
• regularly self-harming
• Significant change in mood.
What triggers suicidal tendencies: Stress can contribute to suicide. A young person or teenager may experience an overwhelming and immediate stress or they may have stress that builds up over a long time. Stressful experiences that may contribute to or trigger suicide include:
• loss of an important person through death or divorce
• incest or child abuse
• bullying at school or in the workplace
• a sense of failure at school
• a sense of failure in relationships
• a relationship break-up
• the experience of discrimination, isolation and relationship conflicts with family, friends and others because the young person is gay or lesbian
• The recent suicide of a friend or relative, or an anniversary of a suicide or the death of someone close to them.
People who have attempted suicide before are very likely to try again. Those who have a history of self-harming are also at a higher risk of suicide. If you suspect that a family member or friend may be considering suicide, talk to them about your concerns. You can begin the conversation by asking questions in a non-judgmental and non-confrontational way. Talk openly and don’t be afraid to ask direct questions, such as “Are you thinking about suicide?”
During the conversation, make sure you:
• stay calm and speak in a reassuring tone
• acknowledge that their feelings are legitimate
• offer support and encouragement
• tell them that help is available and that they can feel better with treatment
Make sure not to minimize their problems or attempts at shaming them into changing their mind. Listening and showing your support is the best way to help them. You can also encourage them to seek help from a professional. Offer to help them find a healthcare provider, make a phone call, or go with them to their first appointment. It can be frightening when someone you care about shows suicidal signs. But it’s critical to take action if you’re in a position to help. Starting a conversation to try to help save a life is a risk worth taking. If you’re concerned and don’t know what to do, you can get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline. If you’ve had suicidal thoughts or feelings, don’t be ashamed and don’t keep it to yourself. While some people have suicidal thoughts without any intention of ever acting on them, it’s still important to take some action. To help prevent these thoughts from recurring, there are several things you can do.
Talk to someone: You should never try to manage suicidal feelings entirely on your own. Getting professional help and support from loved ones can make it easier to overcome any challenges that are causing these feelings. Many organizations and support groups can help you cope with suicidal thoughts and recognize that suicide isn’t the best way to deal with stressful life events. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a great resource. Multiple types of psychosocial interventions have been found to help individuals who have attempted suicide (see below). These types of interventions may prevent someone from making another attempt.
• Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help people learn new ways of dealing with stressful experiences through training. CBT helps individuals recognize their thought patterns and consider alternative actions when thoughts of suicide arise.
• Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) has been shown to reduce suicidal behavior in adolescents. DBT has also been shown to reduce the rate of suicide in adults with borderline personality disorder, a mental illness characterized by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior that often results in impulsive actions and problems in relationships. A therapist trained in DBT helps a person recognize when his or her feelings or actions are disruptive or unhealthy, and teaches the skills needed to deal better with upsetting situations.
(The author is a teacher at Govt High School Brakpora Anantnag. Views are his own)