The Happee Times
INVEST IN YOUR HAPPINESS
Know myths & facts
Understand the Causes
Signs & Symptoms
What can you do about it?
How much do you know about a person's life?
What is the first thought that strikes your head the moment you hear about someone who faced death by suicide or attempted suicide? “They should’ve been stronger! How weak of them.” without giving it a deep thought, we start suggesting what they should’ve done instead.
We need to understand that suicide isn't just “a moment of weakness”. There is an unimaginable trail of events and immense helplessness that precede this action. The reason behind a suicide attempt might seem insignificant to all but for that one person, it felt enormous, bigger than their existence, and hence decided to take that step.
“Isn't that the person who tried to commit suicide?”, we say. Imagine shaming a person who is already going through a setback in life, a person who feels isolated and helpless. Replacing the act of labeling and shaming them with being a little more sensitive, considerate, aware and empathetic, might actually prove to be helpful.
For a person who has been through it, even the term ‘suicide’ is triggering. Hence, when talking about it around them or even in general, we should all be hyper-aware of the terms we choose to use. Calling it “commiting suicide” is like holding someone responsible for a crime. Instead use language like “death by suicide”, which sounds more humane and considerate.
You have to have a mental disorder before dying of suicide.
A person dies by suicide suddenly without any warning signs.
Before dying by suicide, a person does not look for help.
People who want to die by suicide are just looking for attention.
Talking about suicide is a bad idea, it might serve as encouragement for someone.
People plan in advance to die by suicide.
Many people choose to die by suicide in the heat of the moment, despite not suffering from a mental disorder. Mental disorders act as a risk factor for suicide, not a precursor.
If carefully noticed, a person does show certain signs when contemplating suicide in most cases.
Nobody chooses to suffer. Suicidal ideation is often a cry for help that arises when an individual wants to cease their suffering but does not seem to know any other way to do so. Often, when given the right intervention such as psychotherapy, suicides can be prevented.
People who have died by suicide did not seek attention, they just needed help.
Suicide is a big stigma in India and has been glorified by insensitive media portrayals. Talking about suicide and educating people about it is a plan for prevention, not encouragement.
2 out of 3 individuals make the decision to die by suicide between 5 minutes to 1 hour before.
Causes of Suicide
Though mental disorders act as risk factors for suicide, most suicides occur in the heat of the moment due to an inability to deal with life’s immediate stressors such as the loss of a loved one, financial issues, relationship issues, or chronic illnesses.
In order to know more about the reason why people commit suicide, let us take a look at Beck's cognitive tried first. Beck’s Cognitive Triad, given by Aaron Beck, is a theory stating that we perceive ourselves in three ways: ourselves, our world, and our future. When an individual perceives all three dimensions i.e., themselves, their world, and their future negatively, that is when they are susceptible to having suicidal thoughts.
Example of a negative cognitive triad
"I am a failure."
"Everyone thinks I am a failure."
"There’s no hope for me. I won’t be able to amount to anything in my life."
Signs & Symptoms
The first thing we can do is to educate ourselves on the topic, know about the warning signs that should alert us and be aware of what our loved ones or people around us are going through.
The following are potential warning signs that show that a person might be vulnerable to suicide.
Severe sadness and being depressed
Questioning one’s self worth
Isolation from loved ones for a prolonged period of time
A sense of hopelessness about the future
Increased consumption of alcohol or other substances
Traces of self-harm
Recent traumatic life-event (example, loss of a loved one or financial loss)
Not feeling any sense of belongingness
Mentioning suicide while talking about their life
Some examples of verbal warnings are:
“ The world would be better off without me”.
“ I am a waste on this planet.I am a burden for everyone”.
“ You won’t be seeing me around.”
“ If I don’t see you again, thanks for everything.”
“ The world would be better off without me.”
“ The only way out is death.”
“ My friend died, I think she must feel so free of the burden she was going through."
Tips For Reaching Out To People Who Seem Suicidal
“For there is always a light, if only we are brave enough to see it, if only we are brave enough to be it.” - Amanda Gorman
If you repeatedly notice an odd behavioural change in someone and sense that there is something not right, try to reach out to them. Often when someone is struggling, all they need is someone to lend an ear to them and tell them these five words: “I am here for you”
Following are a list of questions that you can ask if you suspect that someone is contemplating suicide:
1. Have you been sleeping properly?
2. Have you ever thought about whether life still makes sense?
3. Have you ever thought about doing something to end your life with?
4. Have you ever talked to others about these thoughts?
5. How often do you have these thoughts currently?
6. Are there times when these thoughts are particularly strong?
7. Have these thoughts become stronger lately?
8. Do you feel that you can control these thoughts or are they intrusive?
(*Please note to ask these questions with care, in a sensitive and strategic manner. If you feel that a person is extremely vulnerable, then contacting a suicide prevention helpline or referring them to a licensed psychotherapist is the right step to take.)
Following are a list of preventive questions that you can ask to someone who you think is contemplating suicide:
1. What keeps you alive?
2. What are your goals in life?
3. How important are friends and family to you?
4. Imagine if you were 10 years older, what advice would you give yourself to get through this time?
5. Who would you turn to when you need help?
6. Could you promise me that you would contact me or someone else in the future whenever you are struggling?
How to help your loved one experiencing suicidal thoughts?
“Promise me you’ll always remember — you’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” - Christopher Robin from Winnie the Pooh
Suicidal thoughts occur when an individual feels that their struggles are insurmountable, or when they are deeply perturbed by a traumatic stressor that they have faced in life. It is in those times that we need to remind them that they are stronger than they think, and that they do have a meaning and purpose in life, even though they might not be able to see it at the moment.
“Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'.”
― Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
Read out and share stories about the beauty of life and remind them that life indeed is worth living (We recommend reading Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl). Set small achievable goals for them because sometimes, even getting out of bed can seem like a struggle. It can be as small as getting up to brush their teeth, watering a plant, or taking them out for a 10 minute walk. This might help them look forward to something and find some meaning throughout the day. Appreciate them for the small efforts that they make, compliment them and remind them of their strengths.
Saying coping affirmations is known to rewire our brains according to what we choose to repeatedly say. Saying affirmations is based on the core idea behind Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)- “We act the way we think” So, if we keep saying things in a certain way, we train our brains to see that perspective and gradually end up acting accordingly as well.
If you know someone who is going through a tough time, let them know that saying these coping affirmations could help.
My existence is bigger than my problems.
It is a bad feeling, it will go away with time.
I will focus on getting through one day at a time.
My existence is bigger than my problems.
I am strong enough to face this.
I will be glad once I get through this.
SUICIDE PREVENTION HELPLINE
Disclaimer: Please note that we are not a crisis intervention helpline. Should you have severe symptoms or have thought about harming yourself, please seek immediate medical help or call suicide prevention helplines such as Aasra 24x7 Helpline: 91-22-27546669. You matter and you are stronger than this. Seek help and feel better.