Suicide Prevention

Tammy Stoner Pinkerton

A rope was the method.  A hotel room south of France the place. A world renowned chef famous on CNN was the person. Anthony Bordain, committed suicide at age 61, and brought the problem of suicide to the forefront.

Since 1999, the Center for Disease Control reports a 30% increase in suicide. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States among all age groups. 

Many are wondering why a man who traveled the world, with a job tasting  food from around the world, writing about the experience could be in so much pain that he would end his own life. What was wrong? Wasn’t he living out the dream job? How could a person who had it all, end his own life?

The myth is that money solves all problems. Money solves money problems. Money doesn’t solve heart problems. 

Suicide affects people of all ages, races and socio economic groups. While some groups have higher rates of suicide than others, every religion, income and race has members who have ended their own life.

Teenagers have the highest rate of suicide attempters, and the middle age, have the highest rate of those who complete suicide. Men are twice as likely to complete suicide then women, but women are twice as likely to attempt suicide. 

Guns and hanging are the most likely methods to succeed in completing suicide, pills are the most likely methods  used by attempters.

Many believe that depression is the central characteristic that all people who complete suicide are experiencing. That is a myth. While depression may or may not be a characteristic of those who attempt suicide, the fact is that hopelessness and helplessness are the central characteristics of those who complete suicide.

Hope is the belief that things will get better. It is what keeps us going, when life gets tough. The belief that life will change. When people feel suicidal they do not believe that life will get better, and they feel helpless to create change to make it better.

The other characteristic that all suicidal people feel is ambivalent. The will to live is strong, and so when people feel suicidal they are simultaneously feeling a will to live and a desire to die at the same time. Recognizing ambivalence is key to preventing suicide. If you hear a person is feeling suicidal remember that a part of them wants to live. That’s the part you should help them hone in on.

Some people believe that people who talk about suicide won’t complete suicide and that talking about suicide is just a method of getting attention. 85% of the people who completed suicide talked about suicide first. If somebody is talking about suicide you should take them serious, as talking about it is a cry for help. 

If you are concerned that somebody is considering suicide you should ask them. Asking about suicide will not encourage somebody to end their own life, any more than asking about pregnancy will encourage somebody to get pregnant. If you are concerned that somebody might be considering ending their own life, ask.

Chances are great that a person considering suicide will speak to you a non trained person before seeking professional help. It is vital that you know how to respond. Anybody seeking suicide as an option needs attention and you should pay attention.

If you are concerned that somebody is considering suicide the first thing you should do is ask. Are you feeling suicidal? If the response is yes, they will tell you. Then ask if they have considered how they would do it. If there is no plan, it is a low level degree of risk. The more specific the plan the greater the degree of risk. Then it’s one thing to have a plan, its another to have access to the method to complete the plan. If somebody tells you they are considering suicide, and they would use a gun, you need to know if they have a gun. Obviously if they have a specific plan, and the method they have identified is available, they are at greater risk, then one that does not have access to the plan. Finally, you want to know what resources are available for support. Somebody who lives alone is at greater risk, then somebody who is surrounded with sources of support.

Remember the key characteristic to suicidal behavior is hopelessness and helplessness. You will want to provide them with some things to look forward too. Do not get into a debate about the merits of living or dying. You might not win the argument. Just insist that they live. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, so emphasize the temporary nature of problems.

If you are concerned that a person is in danger to themselves, please get them help. You do not need to act alone.  In Connecticut, the suicide prevention access helpline is available 24 hours a day. The number in west mystic for Suicide Prevention is available 24 hours / 7 days a week. 1-800-848-1281 (860) 848-1281

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