Aiken County Helpline - 803-648-9900 or 800-648-9900
National HOPELINE Network - 800-SUICIDE
First, a look at the statistics…
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds (and the 11th reason for all ages).
- One in 12 US college students make a suicide plan.
- 9.5% have seriously considered suicide and 1.5% have made a serious suicide attempt.
- A person dies by suicide once every 18 minutes; an attempt is made once a minute.
- There are four males who commit suicide for every one female; however, two females make attempts for every one male.
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
What are some of the signs?
Many symptoms of suicidal feelings are very similar to those of depression. [Refer to the Counseling Center’s brochure on depression for more information.] Both suicidal feelings and depression are treatable with the help of a professional. If you are concerned about someone, look for:
- A change in eating and/or sleeping patterns
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Decreased ability to enjoy formerly pleasurable activities
- Drug and/or alcohol abuse
- Unusual neglect in appearance
- Radical personality change
- Inability to tolerate praise or rewards
- Prior suicide attempts
- Preoccupation with death and dying
- Overwhelming sense of guilt, shame, or reflection
“Suicide crisis” differs from “suicide risk” in that the individual is in an immediate danger of harming themselves and needs prompt attention. There is often a precipitating event, such as the break-up of a relationship, death of a loved one, loss of a job, or some other distressing event. The event is followed by intense emotional states (on top of the already present depression) such as desperation, rage, guilt, anger, hopelessness, or anxiety.
The individual may talk about suicide or death, directly or indirectly. “No one would notice if I was gone.” “My family would be better off without me.” “It doesn’t matter; you won’t have to worry about me much longer anyway.” The individual may seem to be saying goodbye by giving away possessions, paying off debts, changing a will, or otherwise putting their affairs in order. The individual may already have a plan and begin to prepare to use it. The person may buy a gun or stockpile medications. There often is a period of good mood once the decision to commit suicide has been made. This is due to a feeling of relief that “it will all soon be over” and they are no longer ambivalent.
How to talk to a person you fear may be suicidal…
Ask them! You will not cause a person to commit suicide just by asking the question. If the thought is not already there, your question will not cause them to consider it. Tell them of your concern and state that you fear they may hurt themselves. Ask if they have a plan, if they have thought about suicide before, or if they have ever attempted to commit suicide.
Be willing to listen. Do not try to talk them out of it (“But you have so much to live for!” or “Your suicide will hurt your family.”) Rather, let them know you care for them and are concerned for their well-being. Try to get trusted friends or family members involved. It is okay to try to help them find their own reasons to live. Let them know that suicidal feelings do not last, and that problems can be solved.
Encourage the person to seek professional help immediately. This may involve some extra effort on your part by helping them find assistance, driving them to a destination, or going with them and showing support. Try to get a trusted family member involved. Do not try to handle this alone.
Suicide can be prevented. While some suicides occur without any outward warning, most are preceded by multiple signs. The most effective way to prevent suicide among loved ones is to learn how to recognize the signs of someone at risk. Take those signs seriously and know how to respond to them. The emotional crises that usually precede suicides are most often both recognizable and treatable. Even if you are not certain if the individual is suicidal, it is better to err on the side of caution. Ask them!
The majority of individuals who attempt suicide are glad they did not succeed: they just wanted the pain to go away.
If you find yourself in crisis and contemplating suicide, get help IMMEDIATELY. GO TO YOUR LOCAL EMERGENCY ROOM. Contact your mental health provider, a counselor on campus, your church, your family, or someone you trust – GET HELP!
- The university Counseling Center offers free services to full- and part-time students. Staff counselors are trained to assist you. Suite 126, Business and Education Building: 803-641-3609
- Aurora Pavilion at Aiken Regional Medical Centers: 803-641-5900
- Aiken-Barnwell Mental Health Center: 803-641-4164
Remember: Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Stop a Suicide Today http://stopasuicide.org/
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: http://www.afsp.org
National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: http://www.mentalhealth.org/suicideprevention
Befrienders International: http://www.befrienders.org