Annually, more than 21,000 people in Japan lose their lives to suicide. Every day that is 57 people and 1,500 attempts.
At TELL we believe Zero Suicides are possible.
Help us make a difference and learn how to save lives.
At TELL we believe that suicide is preventable. Saving lives is something we can all do. Suicide is one of the most preventable causes of death facing our societies today. However, many of us feel uncomfortable talking about this topic, leaving most of us with insufficient and incorrect information about how to best support those in need. Most people who kill themselves display definite signals or talk about suicide, and most are depressed.
The key to prevention is recognizing the warning signs and risk factors and knowing how to help.
Our willingness to learn the signs and talk about depression and suicide is the first step in getting help to those in need and saving lives. Below is a list of the most common warning signs and risk factors.
How to tell if you or a family member needs help
Are you worried someone you know may be thinking about killing themselves? Have you noticed changes in their behavior? Perhaps you are not sure if they are joking, or want attention, or if something else is going on?
Look for these warning signs and learn how you can make a difference. The more signs you see, the greater the risk.
Warning signs someone may be thinking of suicide
- Talking about wanting to die.
- Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdrawn or feeling isolated.
- Signs of depression, such as moodiness, hopelessness, withdrawal
- Hinting at not being around in the future or saying good-bye
Additional Warning Signs
- Preoccupation with death.
- Suddenly happier, calmer.
- Loss of interest in things one cares about.
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
- Making arrangements; setting one’s affairs in order.
- Giving things away, such as prized possessions.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
They may be so desperate they might say something like…
- If I wasn’t around no one would miss me
- All of my problems will end soon
- I won’t be a problem for you much longer
- Nothing matters; it’s no use
- I won’t see you again
Many different situations and experiences can lead someone to consider suicide. Below are some of the known risk factors for suicide:
- Major psychiatric disorders – depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, eating disorders.
- Alcohol and other substance use disorders.
- A history of trauma, sexual, physical and emotional abuse.
- Previous suicide attempt or self-harming behaviors.
- Family history of suicide.
- A recent death or suicide of a friend or family member.
- Loss – deaths; exposure to suicide; job; marriage, other partner relationships including youths, fight with parents.
- News reports of other suicides by young people in the same school or community.
- Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies.
- Role failure or perceived role failure – job, family, school
- Imprisonment or impending imprisonment – other legal sanctions that may have serious effect on self-image
- Chronic disease / Intense pain with little hope of relief
- Chronic sleep disturbance with or without nightmares
- Access to lethal means
- Lack of social support and sense of isolation
- Stigma associated with help-seeking behavior
- Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for help.
- Restricted access to highly lethal means of suicide.
- Strong connections to family and community support.
- Support through ongoing medical and mental health care relationships.
- Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support self-preservation.
- Opportunities to contribute/participate in school and/or in the community.
- Existence of prevention/education
- Anti-bullying programs.
- LGBTQ support groups.
What do I do if someone talks about suicide?
If you suspect someone may be feeling suicidal or struggling to cope, ask them – it could save their life. Suicide prevention depends heavily on our ability to recognize people who are in distress and may be at risk.
How you can help
It takes an act of courage and compassion to reach out to a depressed or suicidal person.
Listen and show you care. Here are some listening tips:
- Find a private place and let the person take as much time as they need.
- You can start by telling the person you have noticed a change in their behavior.
- Take them seriously and listen without judgment—their feelings are very real.
- Keep your word—don’t make promise you can’t keep or don’t intend to keep.
- Tell them they are important and that you care about them.
Ask directly if they are thinking about suicide
- It won’t put the thought in their head if it wasn’t there before, but it can be a big relief for them to be able to say, “Yes, I am” and acknowledge they need help.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the direct question and use clear language – are they suicidal?
“You seem really low and I’m worried about you. Are you thinking of ending your life?”
“Are you feeling so bad that you are thinking about suicide?”.
Take it seriously
- You may be tempted to believe it is just talk, an accident or attention-seeking. However, you have to believe there is a serious risk of death and accept they needs help to stay safe. Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
Encourage them to get help and support them to do so
- Anyone can feel suicidal, but the feeling doesn’t last forever. Getting help for someone who is feeling suicidal can save their life.
- Discuss together what action to take.
- Never promise secrecy. Dealing with suicide can be difficult and you can’t do it alone.
- If they are a young person get other adults involved.
- If they are a family member get other family members involved. The more people involved the greater the safety.
- Encourage the person to get help from a local health professional such as a doctor, counselor and let them know about the TELL Lifeline.
- You may need the help of others (partners, parents, close friends or someone else) to persuade the person to get professional help. Only by sharing this information can you make sure the person gets the help and support they need
- If they already see a doctor or other mental health provider, it’s important that they tell them about any thoughts of suicide they may have been having.
Ask them to postpone the decision/create a toolkit
- While they may feel like they have to act now, it’s worth encouraging them to postpone that decision.
- They can keep a list of other things they can do to distract themselves and might find that their suicidal thoughts go away over time.
- They can make a list of people they can reach out to for support.
- If the person has an immediate suicide plan and means to carry it out, do not leave them alone. Get help immediately by phoning the police on 110 or the ambulance on 119.
Check out their safety
- Ask how much thought the person has put into taking their own life. How long have they been feeling this way?
- Do they have a plan? Have they tried before?
- Remove any means of suicide available including weapons, medications, alcohol and other drugs, even access to a car.
Look after yourself
- It can be emotionally draining to support someone who is suicidal; don’t do it on your own. Find someone to talk to: friends, family or the TELL Lifeline.
- Thoughts of suicide do not disappear easily. The continuing involvement of family and friends is very important to the person’s recovery.
What NOT To Do
- Don’t try to cheer the person up, or tell them to snap out of it.
- Don’t challenge or dare.
- Don’t assume the situation will take care of itself.
- Don’t argue or debate moral issues.
- Don’t act shocked or surprised at what the person says.
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy.
- Don’t risk your personal safety.
Links for more information on helping people who have suicidal thoughts
- http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/suicide/MH00058 http://www.speakingofsuicide.com/2013/04/12/if-you-suspect/#sthash.shYergPC.dpuf
- If You Suspect a Friend or Loved One is Thinking of Suicide | Speaking of Suicide
Like to know more?
TELL has developed a range of workshops aimed at reducing the myths and stigmas surrounding suicide and providing skills we can all use to support someone in need. Saving lives is easy if you know how.
- Each workshop is four hours long and provides information suitable for individuals, schools, organizations or parents who would like to know more about supporting adults or youths in our community who may be at risk or struggling with thoughts of suicide.
- The workshops are designed to help people become better at identifying and supporting those who are at risk of committing suicide.
- Among the things people will learn at the workshop are the common causes of suicidal behavior, warning signs of suicide, how to talk to someone who may be suicidal and how to get someone in crisis the necessary help they need.
- The workshops allow discussion about this topic and provide participants with the opportunity to ask questions and practice skills in an open and supportive environment.