It can happen to anyone; happy, sad, medicated legally or illegally, or being bullied. Do you know what to look for? I remember the first time I was affected by suicide; I was a freshman and a boy in our class shot himself in his family’s barn. That was just the beginning and didn’t think I would ever be touched by suicide. As the years pass, I found myself touched through family, friends, co-workers, and celebrities. Why does this happen? What are people thinking when they try or commit suicide? For me, it was depression. I was able to pick up the phone and call my dad and then a friend. I realized I was lucky to make the decision to call my dad. So many others are not. We want to be mad at them, we cry and can’t wrap our heads around it. Some people leave notes and letters, others do it through drugs and end up overdosing, thinking drugs will make it better.
You can learn more about why people try and do commit suicide. Alex Lickerman with Psychology Today gives 6 reasons why:
They’re depressed. This is, without question, the most common reason people die by suicide. Severe depression is almost always accompanied by a pervasive sense of suffering as well as the belief that escape from it is hopeless. The pain of existence often becomes too much for severely depressed people to bear. The state of depression warps their thinking, allowing ideas like, “Everyone would all be better off without me” to make rational sense. They shouldn’t be blamed for falling prey to such distorted thoughts any more than a heart patient should be blamed for experiencing chest pain; it’s simply the nature of their disease. Because depression, as we all know, is almost always treatable, we should all seek to recognize its presence in our close friends and loved ones. Often, people suffer with it silently, planning suicide without anyone ever knowing. Despite making both parties uncomfortable, inquiring directly about suicidal thoughts, in my experience, almost always yields an honest response. If you suspect someone might be depressed, don’t allow your tendency to deny the possibility of suicidal ideation prevent you from asking about it.
2.They’re psychotic. Malevolent inner voices often command self-destruction for unintelligible reasons. Psychosis is much harder to mask than depression, and is arguably even more tragic. The worldwide incidence of schizophrenia is 1 percent and often strikes otherwise healthy, high-performing individuals, whose lives, though manageable with medication, are often derailed from their original promise. Schizophrenics are just as likely to talk freely about the voices commanding them to kill themselves as not, and also, in my experience, give honest answers about thoughts of suicide when asked directly. Psychosis, too, is treatable, and usually must be treated for a schizophrenic to be able to function at all. Untreated or poorly treated psychosis almost always requires hospital admission until the voices lose their commanding power.
3.They’re impulsive. Often related to drugs and alcohol, some people become maudlin and impulsively attempt to end their own lives. Once sobered and calmed, these people usually feel emphatically ashamed. The remorse is often genuine, but whether or not they’ll ever attempt suicide again is unpredictable. They may try it again the very next time they become drunk or high, or never again in their lifetime. Hospital admission is, therefore, not usually indicated. Substance abuse and the underlying reasons for it are generally a greater concern in these people and should be addressed as aggressively as possible.
4.They’re crying out for help, and don’t know how else to get it. These people don’t usually want to die but do want to alert those around them that something is seriously wrong. They often don’t believe they will die, frequently choosing methods they don’t think can kill them in order to call attention to their challenges, but they are sometimes tragically misinformed. For instance, a young teenage girl suffering genuine angst because she feels lonely or has gotten into a devastating fight with her parents, may swallow a bottle of Tylenol—not realizing that in high enough doses, Tylenol causes irreversible liver damage. I’ve watched more than one teenager die a horrible death in an ICU days after such an ingestion when remorse has already cured them of their desire to die and their true goal of alerting those close to them of their distress has been achieved.
5.They have a philosophical desire to die. The decision to die by suicide for some is based on a reasoned decision, often motivated by the presence of a painful terminal illness from which little to no hope of reprieve exists. These people aren’t depressed, psychotic, maudlin, or crying out for help. They’re trying to take control of their destiny and alleviate their own suffering, which usually can only be done in death. They often look at their choice to die by suicide as a way to shorten a dying that will happen regardless. In my personal view, if such people are evaluated by a qualified professional who can reliably exclude the other possibilities for why suicide is desired, these people should be allowed to die at their own hands.
6.They’ve made a mistake. This is a recent, tragic phenomenon in which typically young people flirt with oxygen deprivation for the high it brings and simply go too far. The only defense against this, it seems to me, is education. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-in-world/201004/the-six-reasons-people-attempt-suicide
A way we can help is with the “Out of Dark” suicide walks. I have been a part of the suicide walk where people share their stories. The walk is healing because you meet so many people who understand what you are going through. Sharing stories that are sad and give hope to others.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention puts on the suicide walks through out the US. They believe that having the walks and donating monetarily will save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. The website will have information: https://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=cms.home
Anytime someone is showing signs that they want to hurt themselves, reach out to a professional. We might feel we are imposing but I would rather impose than loose someone.