When you see this word you may feel uncomfortable, overwhelmed with emotions, or even confused. With the recent suicide of Chester Bennington, the lead singer of Linkin Park, it’s important we learn the basics of suicide and how we can prevent it.
Chester was a famous singer, married, and had beautiful children. Take a moment to think of this family; what they’re going through is devastating. Keep his family, his friends and his fans in your thoughts. Their pain is one that no person should ever have to feel. A loved one’s suicide is often a shock, and as someone who has lost people to suicide, I know firsthand how this feels. Everyone grieves differently, so I have no intention of speaking for everyone who lost a loved one to suicide, however, I felt like it was my fault. If I just could’ve been there, if I would’ve texted them that day, maybe they would still be here. This is a common thought among those who lose loved ones to suicide, but know: it’s not your fault.
They couldn’t see life as worth living anymore. It has nothing to do with me or with you. Something inside of them was hurting so bad, the good times seem like distant memories. They feel like they are living in the dark and they don’t have hope that it will get better.
How can we stop this horrible epidemic? The answer is education. We need to start teaching young. The warning signs are the first thing we should teach people to recognize.
Someone considering suicide often feels depressed, hopeless, irritable, anxious, temperamental, and uninterested. Talking about feeling worthless, being a burden, having no reason to keep going, unbearable pain, etc., are all red flags to recognize in someone thinking of suicide. Often, behavior will change as well. A major change in activities one used to love, isolation from family and friends, drastic changes in sleep patterns, increased drug and/or alcohol use, reckless acts, giving away things one loves, and saying goodbye to people, are all behavior changes of someone with suicidal ideations.
We can also look at what makes someone a higher suicide risk. Previous suicide attempts, a family history of attempts, substance abusers, and people with mental health illnesses (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, and other conditions) are at a higher risk for suicide than those who do not suffer from a mental health condition. Struggling with a stressful life event such as a death, divorce, break up, job loss, bullying, etc. can put someone at a higher risk as well. Exposure to someone’s suicide and having access to lethal means (firearms, drugs, sharp objects, etc.) increases the risk of suicide. So what if you know the risk factors and warning signs, and are concerned for someone’s safety?
Encourage the person to seek professional help. If you are concerned for their immediate safety, remain with them or contact emergency services. Take away any lethal means in the house. Encourage the person to talk to someone, whether that be you or a professional. Talk is good.Listen to the person, and offer comfort without judgement.
When talking about suicide, you may hear two very important phrases: “imminent risk” and “risk assessment.” A person who is imminent risk is someone who is at immediate risk for suicide, meaning that they are willing and able to attempt suicide in the near future. A risk assessment is something that is used to determine if a person is at imminent risk. This is something that people in the mental health field use to determine the intensity of care that the individual needs.
Something that may help determine imminent risk is a risk assessment. Here’s how it goes:
Ideation: Is this person having thoughts of suicide?
Plan: Do they have a plan for how they would take their life?
Means: Do they have the means to carry out their plan available to them?
Time frame: Is this person going to try right away, or are they planning on this for the distant future?
If this person’s answer is “Yes” for 1-3 questions, and has an immediate timeframe, seek help immediately. Stay with them if possible, and seek professional help. This person is still a risk if they have “No” as one of the answers, so still encourage them to seek help.
We can stop suicide by spreading information about awareness and prevention.
If you or someone you know are struggling, text HELLO to 741-741 to be connected with a trained crisis counselor at Crisis Text Line.