One of the most distressing concerns one may face regarding a loved one is suicidal ideation. Such expressions from a friend, family member, significant other or another who is close to you should always be taken seriously. When a person is facing severe depression, they may often view suicide as the only means of truly escaping their pain. However, it is critical to reach out to the sufferer as soon as possible, so that they can find a proper solution without resorting to the drastic measure of ending their lives.
In helping to prevent suicide, it is essential to watch for certain warning signs. The most obvious of such signs is if a person is mentioning suicide specifically, such as if they are saying they would be better off dead. The person may also be retreating from being in the presence of others and have an increased desire to be by themselves. The person may also be calling those close to them suddenly to say goodbye, as if they won’t be in touch with them again.
Other actions that are cause for alarm include an increase in risk taking, such as more common use of drugs or alcohol or unprotected sexual activity. The person may be giving away some of their personal items that are known to be quite dear to them or may be unexpectedly drawing up a will. If an individual abruptly seems carefree and easygoing after a period of being down or despondent, this may also signal that a person is relieved because they have chosen to go forward with suicide.
When speaking with a person that you suspect of having suicidal thoughts, it is crucial to approach them in a way where they feel comfortable about expressing themselves. Let them know that you have been worried about them lately and want to be sure they are alright. Ask the person if they can pinpoint an occurrence that suddenly led them to feel this way. Also ask if there is any way you may be of assistance or if they would be willing to accept help from others. Explain to the person that the way they feel has the potential to change and ask if they are able to hold out for a specific length of time as you do your best to help.
It is essential that you let the person express themselves however they feel it is necessary. You are there to listen in an accepting way and not be judgmental of what he or she has to say. Do your best to offer positive solutions, such as contacting a crisis line for assistance or being sure that the person takes any prescribed medication as directed. Be sure to offer advice that may help keep the sufferer on the right track, such as improved diet, exercise and plenty of sleep. You will want to stay involved in the person’s life so they know that your care is genuine.
Suicide prevention in the school system
It is highly relevant to be sure that mental health awareness and suicide prevention are emphasized in the educational system, so that students are able to cope as adults with such situations as they arise. Therefore, school supervisors should work to create an environment where students feel secure in sharing such information about themselves or others. Staff should be alerted of the signs to watch for that may signify that a student is suicidal. Parent notification is essential as a measure for the student’s well being. A school psychologist, for instance, may be able to provide a referral to a valuable community service.
Cultural mentalities about suicide
Mental health disorders are often treated differently across cultures. Studies have shown that African Americans may be more likely to wait until the disease has progressed further. They may often turn to mental health professionals as a last resort, following support from family or religious figures. Italians may seek fast relief from such pain and may embellish the symptoms, also first seeking family advice. Irish may be more likely to play down their symptoms or try to conceal them. Hispanics often underutilize health services and are also more likely to turn to family as well. Polish Americans often are unlikely to seek treatment unless their illness is debilitating enough, as seeking help is symbolic of weakness. Greek Americans tend to stigmatize against mental disorders.
Despite the cultural differences regarding conception of mental health and suicide, it is essential that those who are experiencing such symptoms seek treatment. As opposed to sweeping such problems under the rug, finding a genuine solution will allow the sufferer to move forward in a much more productive way. Though the patient may be embarrassed at first, they can be relieved in knowing that they are getting the help that they need.
For more information on treatment options for suicidal ideation with someone you love or an adolescent, contact White River Academy today at 866-520-0905.