I had planned to do a few posts about mental health myself so Melissa's email seemed like perfect timing. She is writing a book on emotional wellness and fitness and her website, stopsuicide.info, contains articles on handling suicidal thoughts and recovery from suicide attempts. Please visit her site if you have been having these thoughts or pass this post along if you think it may help someone. Or even share on social media.. you never know who it might reach!
Thanks! Kim xx
*DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Kim Belanger-Mills/Patchoulimoon VeganKim. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them. .*
Suicide: Warning Signs, Risk Factors, And Prevention
According to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, each day 11 people take their own lives in Canada, while another 210 attempt to do so. People who commit suicide are usually in extreme psychological pain and often feel hopeless, alienated, and like they are a burden on others. However, there is no single cause that takes people to this point. Instead, there are risk factors that move people in this direction, and protective resources that move them away from it.
A warning sign is an indication that someone is in danger and needs help immediately. The most common warning signs for suicide are thoughts about suicide or wanting to die; talking about suicide; feeling hopeless, trapped, or alienated; feeling like you’re a burden to other people; or being isolated. Some people experience a sudden change in mood from despair to an almost calm peacefulness if they have decided to take their own life and started making plans. Other people may start to get their affairs in order, such as having a will drawn up. If you have experienced any of these, it is important that you talk to a friend, call a crisis line, or speak to your doctor.
A risk factor is something that makes a suicide attempt more likely, but by itself might not be enough to make someone consider taking their own life. The main risk factors are a history of suicide attempts; mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or eating disorders; and life stressors such as high-stress work, a relationship breakup, high debt levels, or abuse. Substance abuse disorders are another common risk factor because they are often accompanied by self-guilt, alienation, and damage to the parts of the brain that help you think clearly. If you suffer from addiction, you should seek help for this immediately, especially if there has been a recent increase in your substance use.
Protective Resources: Inner
People are less likely to take their own lives if they have certain protective factors in place. Some of these are inner resources, which is to say, coping strategies that come from you. For example, you may learn cognitive behavioral therapy techniques so you can learn to think about your problems in more constructive ways. You may also learn ways to calm yourself down when things become difficult for you, such as breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga. You can also develop an inner strength and hopefulness by exercising regularly, eating healthy food, and taking part in hobbies and activities.
Protective Resources: Outer
An outer resource is a person—or group of people—that can give you support, and it’s the most important protective resource that you can develop. Social support can significantly reduce the likelihood of a suicide attempt. This support could mean friends or family members you trust, a support group, or professional support from therapists, counselors, or your doctor. Not only can talking to people about your problems provide a great relief, social support can also help you deal with any other risk factors you might have (e.g., getting proper treatment if you’re suffering from a mental health problem like depression).
Balance the Scales
Imagine the causes and protective factors for suicide are balanced on a scale. Some people might have several risk factors, but if they have also mastered many coping strategies, are generally healthy, and have supportive people in their lives, they may not consider suicide. However, another person might have only one or two risk factors, but if they are lonely, in poor health, and don’t know any coping strategies, they will be at great risk. Try to balance the scales and build up as many protective resources as you can, and if you do start having thoughts about suicide, get help right away.