Suicide is much more common than many people think, and suicidal ideation – thinking about suicide – is commoner still.
The World Health Organisation estimates that approximately 1 million people die each year from suicide. What drives so many individuals to take their own lives? To those not in the grips of suicidal depression and despair, it’s difficult to understand what drives so many individuals to take their own lives.
Suicide is one of the themes surrounding Terence Rattigan’s play The Deep Blue Sea at Guildford’s Mill Theatre this week.
The play opens with Hester Collyer ( played by Gaynor Arnold) sprawled in front of her gas fire, having tried and failed to kill herself. There are at least ten times more suicide attempts than death by suicide, so this is not an isolated incident.
Most suicidal individuals give warning signs or signals of their intentions. The best way to prevent suicide is to recognise these warning signs and know how to respond if you spot them. If you believe that a friend or family member is suicidal, you can play a role in suicide prevention by pointing out the alternatives, showing that you care, and getting a doctor or psychologist involved.
Major warning signs for suicide include talking about killing or harming oneself, talking or writing a lot about death or dying, and seeking out things that could be used in a suicide attempt, such as weapons and drugs. These signals are even more dangerous if the person has a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder, suffers from alcohol dependence, has previously attempted suicide, or has a family history of suicide.
A more subtle but equally dangerous warning sign of suicide is hopelessness. Studies have found that hopelessness is a strong predictor of suicide. People who feel hopeless may talk about “unbearable” feelings, predict a bleak future, and state that they have nothing to look forward to.
Other warning signs that point to a suicidal mind frame include dramatic mood swings or sudden personality changes, such as going from outgoing to withdrawn or well-behaved to rebellious. A suicidal person may also lose interest in day-to-day activities, neglect his or her appearance, and show big changes in eating or sleeping habits.
If you are worried about someone at risk, some sources of useful information include:
SANE http://www.sane.org.uk/ helpline: 0300 304 7000
Samaritans http://www.samaritans.org/ 24/7 helpline support: 116 123
Helpful for young people – Papyrus https://www.papyrus-uk.org/
Helpful for men – CALM ( Campaign against Living Miserably) https://www.thecalmzone.net/