Family and friends are left devastated and confused when a loved one dies from suicide. Not only do they feel the grief of losing a loved one, they are often overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and shame. They are left wondering how they could have missed any warning signs, and what could have compelled the loved one to take his/her own life.
Understanding why someone committed suicide can be very difficult. However, one thing most suicides have in common is that the person usually has some sort of untreated mental illness/mental health issue at the time of death, with the most common of these being untreated depression. In addition to untreated depression there are other mental health issues that can lead to death by suicide, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. These untreated mental health issues can lead to a pattern of thinking that makes it easier for someone to justify the taking of their his/her life.
Even though there are a wide range of reasons why someone would commit suicide, there are usually a few that most people have in common.
- Feeling as if they are a burden to others.
- An intense feeling of loneliness and isolation.
- Suicide is seen as a solution, an end to an unbearable pain.
- A total sense of hopelessness.
Family and friends are often consumed with guilt because they believe they failed their loved one by not noticing any warning signs displayed before his/her death. The reality is that, in many instances, the person who took his/her own life did not overtly display any indication of a desire to commit suicide. However, with education about the warning signs of a possible suicide attempt, it can become easier to notice even the most subtle of clues.
Some warning signs that someone might be in danger of harming him/herself are:
- If you know that he/she has an untreated mental health issue.
- An indication that someone is experiencing depression. Symptoms can include, an inability to sleep, withdrawal, and anxiety.
- Threatening suicide or expressing a strong desire to die.
- Giving away possessions.
- A sudden purchase of a gun.
If someone appears to be in danger of committing suicide, there are several things that can be done to get him/her appropriate help. If the person is willing, take him/her to the emergency room to be evaluated. Strongly encourage the person to get help from a local psychiatric treatment center. If he/she is in immediate danger of harming him/herself, call for emergency help to be sent to the location. Give him/her a local suicide hotline number or a toll free suicide hot line number.
Education is probably the most effective tool for suicide prevention. The more that is known about why people commit suicide and the warnings signs, the more likely that help can intervene before they proceed with their plans.