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Suicide Awareness and Prevention

Suicide Awareness and Prevention

Looking out for our friends and loved ones is an important part of preventing suicides. Easy access to mental health treatment can be key to saving the life of someone who struggles with suicidal thoughts. Seeing them go through the pain and struggle to cope with their thoughts and feelings can be hard, and approaching and encouraging them to seek therapy can be a tricky situation. If done incorrectly, you could alienate the person or turn them against the idea entirely. However, there is an effective way to have this conversation. Learn How to Encourage Someone to See a Therapist.

World Suicide Prevention Day is commemorated around the world on the 10th of September to promote commitment and action to prevent suicide. On average, almost 3 000 people commit suicide every day, and for each person who completes a suicide, 20 or more may attempt to end their lives.

About one million people commit suicide each year. Every 40 seconds, the loss of a person who killed themselves shatters the lives of family and friends. Those who stay behind are affected severely and the it can take many, many years to deal with the emotional trauma, and to heal from such an ordeal.

“A suicide is like a pebble in a pond. The waves ripple outward.”

Suicide Hotlines and Crises lines in South Africa

In South Africa, 23 suicides a day are recorded and 230 serious attempts. You can call SADAG  to talk on behalf of a loved one, colleague, or friend. Trained counsellors are there to help and refer you to local counsellors, facilities and Support Groups.

Risk Factors

All people can be at risk of suicide. The risk factors for someone feeling suicidal or making an attempt at suicide may include:

  • Depression, other mental disorders, or substance abuse disorder
  • Certain medical conditions
  • Chronic pain
  • A prior suicide attempt
  • Family history of a mental disorder or substance abuse
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • Having guns or other firearms in the home
  • Having recently been released from prison or jail
  • Being exposed to others’ suicidal behavior, such as that of family members, peers, or celebrities

Warning Signs

The warning signs of suicide can allow you to direct individuals who may be considering suicide to get help. Behaviors that may be warning signs include:

  1. Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
  2. Suicidal ideation: thinking, talking, or writing about suicide, planning for suicide
  3. Substance abuse
  4. Feelings of purposelessness
  5. Anxiety, agitation, being unable to sleep, or sleeping all the time
  6. Feelings of being trapped
  7. Feelings of hopelessness
  8. Social withdrawal
  9. Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from sad to very calm or happy
  10. Recklessness or impulsiveness, taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast
  11. Mood changes including depression
  12. Feelings of uselessness
  13. Settling outstanding affairs, giving away prized or valuable possessions, or making amends when they are otherwise not expected to die (as an example, this behavior would be typical in a terminal cancer patient but not a healthy young adult)
  14. Strong feelings of pain, either emotional or physical
  15. Considering oneself burdensome
  16. Increased use of drugs or alcohol

How You Can Help

How To Be Helpful to Someone Who Is Threatening Suicide:

• Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
• Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
• Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
• Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
• Don’t dare him or her to do it.
• Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
• Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
• Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
• Ask if you may contact a family member
• Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
• Don’t leave them alone, get help from persons specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
• If necessary get in touch with the police

Be Aware of Feelings: Many people at some time in their lives think about suicide. Most decide to live because they eventually come to realize that the crisis is temporary and death is permanent. On the other hand, people having a crisis sometimes perceive their dilemma as inescapable and feel an utter loss of control. These are some of the feelings and thoughts they experience:

  • Feeling Hopeless
  • I can`t stop the pain
  • I`m not worthy
  • Can not sleep
  • Can not work
  • Can not eat
  • I can`t make the sadness go away
  • I can not see a way out
  • Can`t make decisions
  • Can`t take control
  • Feeling helpless
  • Can`t see a future without pain
  • Can`t get someone`s attention
  • Can`t think clearly
  • Can`t get out of depression


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