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Let’s talk about the ‘S’ word

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Author: Holly Hannigan, Posted: Wednesday, 28th August 2019, 09:00

Suicide is a word many people ignore or feel uncomfortable talking about. Tuesday 10th September is suicide prevention day and something I feel very strongly about.

People often still associate suicide as a selfish act that someone decides to do without thinking of the impact it will have on other people. Even the wording ‘committed suicide’ implies it is a sin or crime.

Taking your own life goes against every natural instinct we have

The reality is though that someone who takes their own life is mentally unwell. Their brain is not processing life correctly or functioning rationally. Taking your own life goes against every natural survival instinct we have, so is not something easily done. It is also important to know that most people who feel suicidal do not actually want to die – they do not want to live the life they have anymore.

A healthy, stable brain will process the ups and downs of life rationally and understand that although there can be extremely tough times – financially, physically or emotionally – these are just temporary phases and things will change and improve.

Seeking help for depression and anxiety is so important

Someone suffering with mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety will find this rationalising more difficult, which is why seeking help for anxiety and depression is so important. Mental health conditions such as Bi-polar and Schizophrenia also have increased risk factors.

Warning signs of suicide include: hopelessness, rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge, acting reckless or engaging in risky activities (seemingly without thinking), feeling trapped like there’s no way out, increased alcohol or drug use, withdrawing from friends, family and society, anxiety, agitation, being unable to sleep or sleeping all the time, and dramatic mood changes.

Often people who have been very depressed and openly struggling will suddenly seem optimistic and overly happy. This is a big warning sign that they have made that decision to end their life and be free from the pain they feel themselves and what they believe they cause everyone else.

There are some people who are very good at hiding any struggles and who seemingly have a ‘great life’. When they make the decision to end their life, it comes as a massive shock to those around them.

Simply having a conversation can be the start of change

People are often reluctant to intervene and speak to someone they are concerned about for fear of not knowing what to say. It is important to remember there is no specific formula. Empathy, compassion, genuine concern, knowledge of resources and a desire to help are key to preventing a tragedy. Simply checking in and having a conversation to show you care can be the start of change.

If you are worried about someone or have had suicidal thoughts, contact your GP or a helpline for more urgent cases.

www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan

www.mind.org.uk/information-support

www.rethink.org/aboutus/what-we-do/advice-and-information-service/get-help-now

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