SUICIDE- THE PSYCHOLOGICAL EMERGENCY.
PART TWO: SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF SUICIDE IDEATION. WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP.
Welcome back. We are still on the subject; Suicide- The Psychological emergency. In part one of this article, we were helped to understand what Suicide ideation and suicide as an act, really entails. We were also informed on the various reasons why a person could entertain suicidal thoughts. In this part of the article, we will discuss the signs and symptoms exhibited by people with Suicide ideation and what can be done to help when such signs are noticed.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF SUICIDE IDEATION.
It is not very easy to identify a suicidal being. Do you know why it is so? Simply, it’s not written on a person’s forehead that he/she is SUICIDAL. So, it takes a great level of observation, understanding and discernment to tell when you or the next person is suicidal ( next person here could be your partner, friend, colleague or even a family member). So how can you tell when you or someone else is suicidal and making plans of suicide? Please read on to know. The issue of suicide is no joke.
• Loss of interest: Loss of interest is one of the common signs displayed by a suicidal being. When one is suicidal, he/she begins to lose interest in so many things almost simultaneously. Such person may begin to withdraw from taking part in activities that on normal circumstances, loves and enjoys doing. These activities may include one’s hobbies or the baby steps he/she takes to reach his/her goals and objectives in life.
The sad thing about a person losing interest is that such person doesn’t find a new object of interest, so to speak, neither does he/she have any cogent reason for giving up on his/her present interest. Loss of interest doesn’t breed any positive result. It only leaves the person sinking deeper in his/her suicidal thoughts and if help is not readily available, the story could end a tragedy.
• Frequent mood swings: I know this is not new to us. It is true that there are times or moments when we don’t feel like doing certain things or even communicating with others the way we would on a good day. Sometimes we just want to hide in our shells till we become full of life again. When we feel this way, we can say we are having a mood swing. It happens and this is completely normal. It doesn’t mean we are suicidal each time it occurs. However, frequent, excessive and all-consuming mood swings could be a sign of an underlying problem. Yes, it could be an indication that you or someone else is suicidal. This abrupt change in emotional state of an individual can interfere in a person’s daily living and even affect his/her view of things and relationships with family and friends. Someone with excessive mood swings always feels sad. He/she could be delusional and may even catastrophize a lot of things. Sometimes when asked what the problem is, he/she may dismiss it as nothing and give you the line: “I am fine. It’s nothing. I just want to be left alone”. Some persons may even do so with broad smiles on their faces. They believe that no one will really understand how they feel and so they shut others out. This doesn’t help though because it only leaves them feeling more depressed. Frequent and overwhelming change in emotional state could be a sign that you or the next person is entertaining suicidal thoughts.
• Isolation: This is simply the act of withdrawing oneself or keeping oneself apart from others. Everyone may have a good reason to isolate himself/herself from a particular company at certain times. Although this can be justified, suicidal persons have this tendency to always isolate themselves from others. It could be their family members, their friends, school or workmates. They always want their lone time not necessarily to do something substantial but maybe just to sleep, cry or continue in their sad thoughts . They are not happy for doing this but they see it as the best option for themselves at such times. They don’t just seem to be in a good state of mind to associate with others. Frequent self-withdrawal is one sign you should look out for to know when you or your neighbour is thinking of ‘ending it’.
• Risky acts: Risky acts? Yes, people with suicide ideation tend to get themselves involved in risky acts. What are risky acts? Risky acts are acts that involve potential harm or injury. They are unhealthy, unsafe, dangerous and threatening. Some suicidal persons engage in acts that are unsafe and pose great harm to their lives. Some of these persons may decide to engage in drug or substance abuse or they may toil with very harmful and sharp tools. Others may attempt to ingest poisonous substances or chemicals while others actually ingest them before help finds them shortly after they do. Some may attempt jumping off elevated positions like cliffs, bridges or even storey buildings. Some even cross the roads without proper caution. Why do these persons do these things even when they know such acts are totally unsafe? Simply put, they want to end their lives.
• Negative self-talks: Another sign exhibited by people with suicide ideation is negative self-talk. Self-talk refers to thoughts or talks directed to oneself. When such thoughts are excessive and pessimistic, we call it negative self-talk. Negative self-talk is simply trash-talking oneself. It entails constantly thinking, saying and believing a lot of seemingly negative things about oneself as an individual. Suicidal persons always think and say a lot of bad things about themselves and abilities even when there is really nothing bad about them. Excessive negative self-talks blind one to the beauty of life, make one depressed, kill one’s will to try and impair one’s quality of life. They prevent one from seeing positive possibilities.
Suicidal individuals don’t believe they have something positive they can contribute. They always feel the worst about themselves. Even when they are being helped to believe otherwise, they find it very hard to let go of the notions they have about themselves and deleting such conception seems like a herculean thing to do. If not controlled well, excessive negative self-talk can lead one into depression and feelings of worthlessness which may eventually lead to suicide.
• Anxiety: People that entertain suicidal thoughts are anxious and may suffer from serious anxiety disorder. Anxiety is the apprehensive feeling of uneasiness concerning an outcome (real or perceived). Anxiety can take different forms. It can be mild or serious. For some, it can be overwhelming and may be accompanied with nervousness, tension and sweating. Some suicidal persons tend to be very anxious about certain things. For some, it could be anxiety over what they will be tomorrow or their career. For others, fear of the unknown and fear of failure may beat them down to their knees. Anxiety in its overwhelming state can leave a person becoming overly fearful and thus could hinder one from taking necessary steps to bring about positive changes in their lives or even reach their goals. This fear can lead some persons to terminate their existence in a bid to avoid certain outcomes ( real or imaginary) especially the seemingly negative ones.
We could go on and on with listing the different symptoms of suicide ideation. Now it’s time for the action part. If we are to control the rate of suicide if not eliminate it, we must take necessary steps. Here are a few things you and I can do if we notice these signs in ourselves or those around us:
• Talk and listen: Are you suicidal? Have you lost hope? Does giving up seem like the answer? Are you depressed? Don’t know why you feel the way you do? Know that you are not alone. However, it will be a very wise decision to talk to someone about how you truly feel. Regardless of how much you want to win it alone, there are times when you just need the next person. Yes, there are times when you can’t conquer certain thoughts and feelings alone and the best thing you can do at such times is to pour out your heart to a listening ear. Talking to someone relieves you of a whole lot of burden. Some have found comfort in praying. That really helps too. A friend or parent can help you see things as they really are and it may turn out that everything isn’t as bad as your feared. Also, when you are being talked to, open your hearts wide and listen. Be open-minded. Try not to hold on to very negative conceptions about yourself or situations. If you are willing to do this, you will be easily helped to defeat suicide ideation.
Have you noticed a suicidal person? Have you heard him/her talk? Have you observed his mood? Is he/she constantly withdrawing from the company? If yes, then you can and should act immediately. It will be really helpful and loving on your part to talk to the person in a place and manner that shows respect. Talk consolingly and tenderly to them. Well, before you talk, listen. Really listen. Listen to understand and not just to reply. Listen with an open mind. Yes, you may not see cogent reasons why the person may feel suicidal or you may think it’s totally uncalled for. Well, the fact remains that the person is feeling that way and needs help. It’s not about how you see it, it’s about how the person feels. So, please, learn to listen to them and acknowledge their feelings. Help them get back on track. You also need to be patient as it may take some time for them to open up to you and stop feeling suicidal.
• Show love: It will be very helpful to show love towards someone who is suicidal. Show love in appropriate yet sincere manner. Some ways you can show love to people with suicide ideation include: spending time with them in activities they enjoy, regularly checking up on them to know how they are coping, helping them out in practical ways, assuring them that they are loved, listening to them and being patient with them. When you show love to these ones, you will help them stand and find a reason to go on.
• Avoid isolating yourself: As mentioned above, some suicidal persons tend to withdraw into their “shells” virtually every time. Well, this is never the wise thing to do. If you constantly feel like ending your life, avoiding yourself will never help your situation. As hard as this may be for you to do, it’s never wise. It won’t help. You will only end up fuelling that desire instead of killing it. Try to be around people that care about you, people that are good for your mental health. Join others and engage in good and uplifting activities. Avoid the snare of keeping yourself apart and being caged in the world of your mind. This will help you feel really better and may help you see new reasons to keep living.
• Get help: Yes, the first step is to acknowledge that you are not okay. The next thing is to get the necessary help to be better. We have trained professionals in the field of Psychology and Counselling. Many of them are loving individuals and are willing to help you out of the deep waters. They are ready to listen and help you in practical ways just so you don’t give up. It will be wise to take advantage of this form of help and follow wise counsel. If you also notice that the next person is suicidal, please lovingly help them get the needed help.
I believe we have learnt a lot from this article. Suicide still remains an EMERGENCY and we shouldn’t keep quiet. We should never ignore these signs. I will encourage you to help in controlling suicide ideation and the act itself. Well, is it possible to prevent suicide ideation and the act itself? If you are suicidal and are trying to defeat your feelings, how can you cope? Anticipate the last part of this article as these questions will be answered in it. Don’t forget to spread the word. I am sure someone needs this knowledge.