No suicide attempt should be dismissed or treated lightly!
A suicide attempt is a clear indication that something is gravely wrong in a person’s life. No matter the race or age of the person; how rich or poor they are, it is true that most people who commit suicide have a mental or emotional disorder.
The most common underlying disorder is depression, 30% to 70% of suicide victims suffer from major depression or bipolar (manicdepressive) disorder.
Warning Signs of Someone Considering Suicide
Any one of these symptoms does not necessarily mean the person is suicidal, but several of these symptoms may signal a need for help:
• Verbal suicide threats such as, “You’d be better off without me.” or “Maybe I won’t be around.”
• Expressions of hopelessness and helplessness.
• Previous suicide attempts.
• Daring or risk-taking behavior.
• Personality changes.
• Giving away prized possessions.
• Lack of interest in future plans.
Remember: Eight out of ten suicidal persons give some sign of their intentions. People who talk about suicide, threaten to commit suicide, or call suicide crisis centers are 30 times more likely than average to kill themselves.
Over the past 60 years, the overall rate of suicide among youths has tripled making it the third leading cause of death among 18-to-35-year-olds and the second leading cause of death among students.
It’s important for parents, teachers and counselors to become familiar with the facts about young adults, especially when it comes to depression and suicide. When youth’s moods disrupt his ability to function on a day-to day basis, it may indicate a serious emotional or mental disorder that needs attention – depression. Sometimes they feel so depressed that they consider ending their lives.
Studies show that suicide attempts among young people may be based on long standing problems triggered by a specific event. Suicidal youths may view a temporary situation as a permanent condition. Feelings of anger and resentment combined with exaggerated guilt can lead to impulsive, self-destructive acts.
Recognizing The Warning Signs
Four out of five youths who attempt suicide have given clear warnings. Pay attention to these warning signs:
• Suicide threats, direct and indirect
• Obsession with death
• Poems, essays and drawings that refer to death
• Dramatic change in personality or appearance
• Irrational, bizarre behavior
• Overwhelming sense of guilt, shame or reflection
• Changed eating or sleeping patterns
• Severe drop in school performance
• Giving away belongings
What To Do If You Think Someone Is Suicidal
Trust your instincts that the person may be in trouble.
Talk with the person about your concerns. Communication needs to include LISTENING.
Ask direct questions without being judgmental. Determine if the person has a specific plan to carry out the suicide. The more detailed the plan, the greater the risk.
Get professional help, even if the person resists.
Do not leave the person alone.
Do not swear to secrecy.
Do not act shocked or judgmental.
Do not counsel the person yourself.
Helping Suicidal Teens
Offer help and listen. Encourage depressed teens to talk about their feelings. Listen, don’t lecture.
Trust your instincts. If it seems that the situation may be serious, seek prompt help. Break a confidence if necessary, in order to save a life.
Pay attention to talk about suicide. Ask direct questions and don’t be afraid of frank discussions. Silence is deadly!
Seek professional help. It is essential to seek expert advice from a mental health professional who has experience helping depressed teens. Also, alert key adults in the teen’s life – family, friends and teacher.
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