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Suicide Prevention

Suicide is the act or an instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally.

In the United States, between 30,000 and 50,000 Americans kill themselves every year.  This counts only those who were “successful.” Discussing suicide may make us uncomfortable but suicide is far from uncommon.  Worldwide over 1,000 people kill themselves every day.  Mark Twain wrote, “There are times in every life when we would like to die temporarily.” Suicide is a permanent answer to what is often a temporary problem.  Those who actually attempt suicide have lost hope – they no longer believe they can solve their problems or ease their pain and see suicide as their only answer.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression
It is normal to experience any one or more of these symptoms.  If the behavior lasts for more than 2 weeks it should be treated as possible sign of suicidal feelings.

  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sleeping, daily fatigue, loss of energy
  • Headache, stomach ache
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Weakness, dizziness
  • Changes in personal appearance, attitude or personality
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Unwillingness to communicate
  • Use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Depression, moodiness
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Spending time alone
  • Running away from home
  • Aggression, violence, emotional outburst
  • Constant complaints of minor aches and pains
  • Giving away possessions
  • Participating in risk-taking or self-destructive behavior
  • Talk of suicide

Psychological Signs

  • Lack of self-esteem, self-worth
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Depression, irritability
  • Feelings of inappropriate guilt
  • Feelings of hopelessness, inner turmoil
  • Feeling that most things are overwhelmingly difficult
  • Feelings of isolation (with family and friends)
  • Inability to maintain a close relationship
  • Inability to resolve problems
  • Inability to accept the loss of death of a loved one
  • Lack of emotional balance
  • Recurrent thoughts of death and suicide


What to do
Always take anyone, even children, seriously if they talk about suicide. Talking about suicide is the first visible sign and should never be shrugged off as a need for attention. Suicide is serious and often preventable if the behaviors are recognized.

  • Ask directly. “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” This does not mean you are encouraging the action, rather that you are willing to listen and help.
  • Talk about it. Ask for details if you think that plans have already been made.
  • Be a good listener. Listen with eyes as well as ears; look for nonverbal signs such as hand motions, facial expressions, and moods. Never act shocked, disgusted or makes moral judgments.
  • Avoid giving advice. Try not to provide solutions or tell the person to “stop letting things bother you so much,” “not to feel that way” or “how lucky he is.”  Listen, do not give opinions.
  • Show that you are there to talk and listen. Reassure the person that people care about what happens to him or her.  Show unconditional love.
  • Seek professional help. A suicidal person needs professional advice and counseling.  Breaking confidences is not disloyal, especially if it saves someone’s life.
  • Avoid leaving the person alone. Especially if there is any immediate danger.
  • Suicide-proof the house by locking away guns and ammunition separately, storing pills securely or disposing of them.

If you discover someone who has attempted suicide, treat the situation as a medical emergency and get help immediately.


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