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How to Identify and Help People Considering Suicide

Sep 10, 2021 02:30PM ● By Anand Subramanian
words HELP written on the sand being washed by waves

Suicide is a last attempt to end terrible pain. Suicidal people are blinded by issues with self, depression, and loneliness, and they see no other way out but death. Despite their wish to end their suffering, most suicidal persons are extremely torn about taking their own lives. They wish there was an alternative to suicide, but they can't think of one. We may be unsure of how to assist, if we should take the suicidal talk seriously, or whether our intervention would exacerbate the problem. In many cases, suicide may be avoided in many situations. Learning about the risk factors and warning indicators, such as anxiety, personality changes, self-harm behavior, a recent life crisis, and discussions about wanting to die, can help save a life. Let's talk about statistics, warning signals, and preventative methods in this post. 

Suicide is the 16th greatest cause of mortality among African Americans overall. Every 4.5 hours, one African American dies by suicide in the United States. There were 28,177 suicides among African Americans documented between 2000 to 2010 and it has significantly increased to more than 100,000 individuals. African American adolescents and young adults had the greatest number and incidences of suicide in any African American age group. Suicide is the third greatest cause of death among African Americans aged 15 to 19, the fourth for those aged 20 to 29, and the eighth for those aged 30 to 39. The number of completed suicides only represents a small part of the impact of suicidal behavior. Many more persons are hospitalized for nonfatal suicide attempts than are fatally harmed, and an even higher proportion are treated in ambulance settings or are not treated at all for suicidal actions injuries than are hospitalized. The comparative accounts of suicidal ideation and behavior reveal some significant disparities. For example, whereas males have a greater suicide rate than females, studies of suicidal thoughts and nonfatal suicidal conduct consistently show females with higher rates. Suicide mortality among African Americans roughly doubled during the first weeks of the lockdown, according to new research concentrating on the initial weeks of the lockdown, whereas it decreased significantly among White citizens.

Figure 2- Last second before the end. Source - iStock

Suicidal thoughts and attempts are more likely in adolescents who suffer from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Many African American children and adolescents suffer additional risks, such as exposure to violence and racial prejudice. Black adolescents are also less likely than their White counterparts to obtain depression therapy, and when they do, it is frequently through the juvenile court system. White children with behavioral issues such as irritability and combativeness are typically diagnosed with mood disorders, but Black children with similar tendencies are viewed as disruptive and in need of punishment. Too frequently, Black kids are told that their lives are unimportant and that they are less deserving of attention, care, and safety than their counterparts from other backgrounds. When compared to White children, they face greater school detentions, suspensions, and expulsions, have higher rates of arrest and incarceration, and have fewer alternatives for high-quality education and secure work. According to studies, the stigma associated with mental illness, as well as the fear of being more marginalized or disregarded, may prevent Black kids from communicating their views. Furthermore, public health and mental health professionals may be unaware that suicide risk factors manifest differently depending on ethnic group. Simply put, a monotonous strategy to diagnosing suicide risk does not work. In addition, little or no effort has been made to address the growing issue. The majority of mental health treatments are not built with cultural and societal considerations in mind. The difficulties that Black children encounter while negotiating multiple cultural settings may raise their likelihood of suicide ideation. Researchers working with Black women in clinical and research settings have discovered that a history of childhood maltreatment, as well as emotions of humiliation and desertion, have contributed to suicide attempts in their adolescence. This background can also lead to a slew of behavioral and academic issues in school, sexual victimization in adulthood, and job retention issues.

The majority of suicidal people exhibit warning indications or clues of their intentions. Recognizing these warning signals and knowing how to respond to them is the most effective approach to prevent suicide. If you suspect a friend or family member is suicidal, you may help prevent suicide by pointing out alternatives, demonstrating your concern, and involving a doctor. Talking about killing or injuring oneself, talking or writing a lot about mortality or suffering, and searching out items that may be used in a suicide attempt, such as firearms and narcotics, are all major danger indicators for suicide. These warning signs are considerably more hazardous if the individual has a mental condition, such as depression or bipolar disorder, is addicted to alcohol, has tried suicide in the past, or has a family history of suicide. Despair, sleeping too much or too little, limiting contact with family members, mood changes, and becoming more combative and irritated are more subtle, but just as deadly warning signs of suicide.

Figure 3- Visual representation of suicidal thoughts. Source - Pexel

Talking to a friend or family member about suicidal thoughts and feelings may be incredibly tough for anybody. However, if there is any doubt regarding their suicidal ideas, the best method to find out is to inquire. Allowing a suicidal person to communicate their thoughts can give comfort from loneliness and pent-up unpleasant sentiments, and may avert a suicide attempt. Let the loved ones know they are not alone and that they are cared for and cherished. They can be helped, but they must make a genuine commitment to rehabilitation. It takes a lot of guts to aid someone who is suicidal. As a result, it is critical to encourage the individual to visit a mental health expert, assist in locating a treatment facility, or accompany them to a doctor's appointment. If the doctor recommends medicine, make sure the friend or loved one takes it exactly as prescribed. Side effects must be monitored, and the patient must tell the doctor if they appear to be worsening. Finding the correct medicine or therapy for a certain person can frequently require time and effort. During the recovery process, it is critical to assist the individual in developing a series of actions they pledge to take in the event of a suicidal crisis. It should identify any factors that might lead to a suicide crisis, such as a loss anniversary, alcohol, or relationship stress. Include contact information for the individual's doctor or therapist, as well as friends and family members who can assist in an emergency. Even after the immediate suicide crisis has passed, maintaining in touch with the individual, checking in, or dropping by regularly, is critical. Love and support are critical in keeping them on the road to recovery.

When a person is having mental health issues and suicidal thoughts, they must receive appropriate care as soon as the signs are detected. It is also critical that they get treatment from culturally competent health care providers and organizations. Organizations such as Black Mental Health Alliance, Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective, Sistah Afya Community Mental Wellness, and many more are delivering outstanding service to persons of color while respecting and comprehending their various lived realities. In addition to organizations and experts, the Black community as a whole must be informed about suicide as a public health concern among its youth. Teachers, school social workers, and primary care physicians should be educated to detect indications of depression and trauma, as well as to conduct complete suicide evaluations. Furthermore, rather than depending only on mental health clinics, youth mental health support groups with experienced facilitators should be offered in places where young people naturally congregate, such as schools, mentoring programs, summer camps, and community centers. Finally, it is critical to encourage young people to communicate unpleasant ideas and emotions without guilt or fear of being judged.

 Anand Subramanian is a freelance photographer and content writer based out of Tamil Nadu, India. Having a background in Engineering always made him curious about life on the other side of the spectrum. He leapt forward towards the Photography life and never looked back. Specializing in Documentary and  Portrait photography gave him an up-close and personal view into the complexities of human beings and those experiences helped him branch out from visual to words. Today he is mentoring passionate photographers and writing about the different dimensions of the art world.

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