It isn’t uncommon to find a gruesome news item in the papers, describing how a woman set herself on fire after dousing herself with kerosene, or how a man threw himself off the top of a high building. Suicide attempts and successful suicides are things that happen everyday. Most of these are because of psychiatric illnesses and in seventy percent of the cases, the illness is depression. Seffizophrenia, and problems arising from drug addiction and alcoholisim are other causes of suicide. In most cases, there are some warning signs, even direct hints that the person makes, either to his relatives or friends, or to a doctor. All too often, people don’t take these warning signs seriously enough. Now a days problems of living or inter-personel problems or economic problems are becoming major causes of suicidal attempts.
Signs of suicidal intentions:
The person may give direct hints of wanting to die, or may be seen to be making preparations – making a will, giving away belongings, collecting sleeping pills etc. Guilt and self blame, feeling of worthlessness and emptiness are more common in those attempting suicide. Suicide is especially common when an alcoholic or drug addict has to deal with a broken relationship. Suicide is more likely in those who have tried it before, specially if precautions were taken to try and avoid discovery and if violent means were used – e.g., fire, fire arms, jumping from height. Suicide is more common when someone close to the person has died, specially losing his or her spouse or mother losing her only son. Old age, unemployment and physical illness make suicide more- likely. When a dependent person loses his or her support suicide is more likely.
Lots of deaths due to suicide are accidental or due to ill timing. The person may not know the potential of a method used or may act with the hope that help would be available at certain time which may not come.
Most attempted suicides are not actual attempts, but some are. Warning signs of suicide should never be taken lightly.They are cries for help. If you should suspect that someone you know is thinking of suicide, get help immediately by contacting a psychiatrist. The person may need to be admitted to a psychiatric ward. Even while admitted to a hospital, family members must always be vigilant for suicide attempts.
It is often when getting better from a severe depression that a person tries to end his life. Be very watchful when a person begins to lift out of depression. If necessary, take turns keeping watch. Even if the person goes to the bathroom, someone should be either ready at hand to force open the door, or have the person not lock himself in at all. After all, it is not difficult to keep a knife or pills hidden in the bathroom and use them at that time.
Keep all objects such as blades and sharp knives away because they could be used to slash wrists. Also, keep insecticides, kerosene and matches in places that are difficult to find. Be specially careful with medicines of all kinds, including those used for diabetes and blood pressure.
Suicides become more common in certain illness such as depression. Watch out for signs of severe depression, some of which are – awakening early in the morning, frequent crying, withdrawing from routine and social life, and weight loss.
Schizophrenia is another disorder in which suicides can take place as a result of the person’s breaking off from reality and responding to his own abnormal thoughts. Some of the signs of schizophrenia are: talking, laughing or crying to oneself, expressing ideas about others wanting to harm the person, hearing voices or seeing things when no one is there, severely disturbed sleep, withdrawing from day to day reality and functioning.
Problems of living, dowry, marital disharmony, alcohol or drug abuse etc. make a person more prone to attempt suicide and any attempt can cause accidental death.
Suicide is a desperate cry for help and if help is forthcoming, it could be averted. At times a spiritual attitude consistent with the person’s belief is very useful specially the concept of life after life. All the members of the family have to stand up united in his hour of need and blaming others or infighting further worsens the situation. Suicide prevention is a crisis intervention leading to find solution of the bigger problem of which suicide was the manifestation.