World Suicide Prevention Day is observed on 10 September every year to raise awareness about suicide and suicide prevention. According to the World Health Organisation, more than 700,000 people die by suicide every year, which means one person dies from suicide every 40 seconds.
Many factors can lead to suicide, and the reasons may vary among individuals. Certain life events may trigger suicidal tendencies, and mental health conditions like anxiety and depression can make someone more vulnerable to suicide. The COVID-19 pandemic has also contributed to increased feelings of isolation and vulnerability, escalating the burden of psychological distress.
This year, the theme for World Suicide Prevention Day is “Creating Hope Through Action” – a reminder that our actions make a difference to those suffering from suicidal thoughts.
There is no ‘formula’ to recognising if someone is considering taking their own life. That is why it is worth noting the following indicators:
- Persistent sadness and depression
- Making suicide threats
- Negative view of self
- A sense of hopelessness or no hope for the future
- Isolation or feeling alone
- Aggressiveness and irritability
- Possessing lethal means
- Feeling like a burden to others
- Drastic changes in mood and behaviour
- Frequently talking about death
- Self-harm like cutting behaviours
- Engaging “risky” behaviours
- Making funeral arrangements
- Giving things away
- Substance abuse
How to support someone you think may be suicidal
People who have a robust support system and receive appropriate and timely intervention are less likely to act on their suicidal impulses than those who are socially isolated. If you know of someone who seems to have suicidal tendencies, here are some of the ways that you can render support:
- Don’t be afraid to reach out: If you are concerned about someone, check in with the person and find out what’s going on in their life.
- Encourage them to get professional help: Stigma is one of the most significant barriers to seeking help. Allow them to feel comfortable about seeking professional help by giving them encouragement. Trusted GPs, such as those at Osler Health, consider mental health as important as physical health and are experienced in assessing risk.
- Be with the person: Instead of talking them out of suicide, listen to and acknowledge their thoughts and feelings. Research suggests that having open conversations about suicide can help to reduce suicidal tendencies.
- Stay in touch: Check on the person regularly.
How to look after your mental health
Apart from recognising the signs of suicide, it is also essential to look after our mental health. Life is rarely smooth-sailing, and it’s normal to encounter ups and downs. Knowing how to cope with life’s challenges will help greatly in ensuring our wellbeing. Boost your wellbeing by:
- Doing things with others: Spending time with family or friends, meeting new people and getting involved in social activities can make a difference in how you feel.
- Doing something creative: Engaging in activities or hobbies that you enjoy can increase your confidence and self-esteem, positively impacting your mental health.
- Investing time in relationships: Connecting with people and building healthy relationships is critical to ensure mental wellbeing. Get in touch with people whom you trust or feel good around.
- Focusing on having positive thoughts: Having positive thoughts can help you feel better. You can start by listing your strengths and the things you are grateful for in your life.
- Taking time to unwind: Taking some time to unwind and relax at the end of every day can help you recover from the stresses of everyday life, and better meet the challenges of tomorrow. Try some relaxation apps or learn relaxation techniques online.
- Sleeping well: Getting sufficient restful sleep is important to help us feel refreshed at the start of every day. We simply cannot function properly without sleep.
- Staying active: Your physical health plays a critical role in keeping you mentally healthy. Exercising releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins, which helps improve your mood and reduces stress.
- Eating well: As the saying goes, “you are what you eat.” Making it a point to eat nutritious foods can make a difference in the way you feel and in turn, improve your mental health.
- Practising mindfulness: Mindfulness is a type of meditation that focuses on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the present moment. Practising mindfulness can help you slow down, let go of anxiety and live in the moment.
If you find that you or someone you know is suffering from suicidal thoughts or other mental health issues, please seek professional help immediately. Let our kind and experienced doctors at Osler Health help you overcome any mental health challenges that you or those around you may be facing.