I hope I find you well and in good mental health. Suicide is preventable, potential victims usually exhibit behaviour changes which should be taken as a cry for help.
The World Health Organisation states that for each suicide, there are more than 20 suicide attempts. Suicide does not discriminate.
People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk.
Suicidal behaviour is complex, and there is no single cause.
Family and friends are often the first to recognise the warning signs of suicide, and they can take the first step toward helping a loved one find mental health treatment.
Low risk patients have some suicidal thoughts.
No suicide plan.
The person says they won’t attempt suicide.
Moderate risk persons have suicidal thoughts, a vague plan that isn’t very lethal and say they won’t attempt suicide.
The high risk individual has suicidal thoughts, a specific plan that is highly lethal but says they won’t attempt suicide.
However, the severe cases have suicidal thoughts, a specific plan that is highly lethal and the person says they will attempt suicide.
The following questions can help you assess the immediate risk of suicide:
· Do you have a suicide plan? (plan),
· Do you have what you need to carry out your plan (pills, gun, etc.)? (means),
· Do you know when you would do it? (time set),
· Do you intend to take your own life? (intention).
Warning signs that someone may be at immediate risk for attempting suicide include:
· Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves,
· Talking about feeling empty or hopeless or having no reason to live,
· Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions,
· Feeling unbearable emotional or physical pain,
· Talking about being a burden to others,
· Withdrawing from family and friends,
· Giving away important possessions,
· Saying goodbye to friends and family,
· Putting affairs in order, such as making a will,
· Taking great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast,
· Searching for lethal methods online, stockpiling pills, or buying a gun,
· Using alcohol or drugs more often.
We spend most our productive life at work. Work that is interesting and fulfilling is good for mental health, but a negative working environment or work-related stressors can lead to physical and mental health problems.
It is important for employers and others in positions of responsibility in the workplace to put in place measures to promote the good mental health of their employees, and to have a plan for supporting employees and colleagues with mental health conditions or who may be at risk of suicide.
This can be done by providing information sessions for your staff on mental health and suicide prevention.
Ensure all staff know what resources are available for support, both within the organisation and in the local community.
Foster a work environment in which colleagues feel comfortable talking about problems that have an impact on their ability to do their job effectively and supporting each other during difficult times.
Management should identify and reduce work-related stressors which can negatively impact mental health.
Design and implement a plan for how to sensitively manage and communicate the suicide or suicide attempt of an employee in a way that minimizes further distress.
Measures should include the availability of trained health workers and support services for staff.
Persons aged 65 years are also at high suicide risk .One contributing factor is depression in the elderly that is undiagnosed and untreated.
Other risk factors for suicide in the elderly include:
· Recent death of a loved one, isolation, and loneliness.
· Physical illness, disability, or pain.
· Major life changes, such as retirement or loss of independence.
· Loss of sense of purpose.
Ways to start a conversation about suicide:
· “I have been feeling concerned about you lately.”
· “Recently, I’ve noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.”
· “I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.”
Questions you can ask:
· “When did you begin feeling like this?”
· “Did something happen to make you start feeling this way?”
· “How can I best support you right now?”
· “Have you thought about getting help?”
What you can say that helps:
· “You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.”
· “You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.”
· “I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.”
· “When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold off for just one more day, hour, minute—whatever you can manage.”
Multiple types of psychosocial interventions have been found to help individuals who have attempted suicide.
These types of interventions may prevent someone from making another attempt.
Provide them with details of a mental health specialist if possible, and maintain regular contact, initially by making another appointment.
If the person has a concrete plan, including the means and the intention to die, stay with the person, remove the means of suicide, consult a mental health specialist, and assign a family or staff member to stay with the person so that they are not left alone until further specialist support is in place.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help people learn new ways of dealing with stressful experiences.
CBT helps individuals recognize their thought patterns and consider alternative actions when thoughts of suicide arise.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) has been shown to reduce suicidal behavior in adolescents.
A therapist trained in DBT can help a person recognize when their feelings or actions are disruptive or unhealthy and teach the person skills that can help them cope more effectively with upsetting situations.
Till next week stay well.
Dr. Tatenda Simango can be contacted on [email protected]