Suicide, a conscious act of intentionally taking one’s own life, can come in many forms. For example, by hanging, shooting, stabbing, jumping from a hill top, high rise buildings, telecommunication masts, running into a path way of a moving vehicle, and through the use of substances such as gammalin, sniper, acid, codeine, tramadol etc.
Although, discussing suicide can be a very touchy and highly sensitive issue, it is fast becoming one of the most leading causes of death in many societies and Nigeria is not an exception. A number of factors account for this worrying trend.
Some of these include: financial difficulty/debt, terminal illness, mental disorder, relationship issues/rejection by a loved one, chronic pain, loneliness, traumatic experiences arising from, e.g bullying, sexual and physical abuse, substances abuse, etc.
The intention of “Frankmba.ng” therefore is to inspire hope and make them understand that suicide is not a solution to life problems.
In what follows, the blog will provide you in Part 1, of this topic: Tips for recognizing the warning signs for suicide and suicidal behavior. Part 2 and 3, would be devoted to tips to overcome thoughts about ending your life and tips towards helping someone to overcome suicidal thoughts respectively.
Please read on…
Tips for recognizing suicidal behavior
Recognizing the warning signs for suicide is key to understanding when a fellow citizen is contemplating suicide and how such a person can be helped.
Warning signs for suicide include:
- Excessive sadness which can lead to long-lasting sadness and if not addressed to, lead to moodiness, depression and possibly lead to suicidal thoughts.
- Sometimes however, the suicidal person may look happy – smiling and telling jokes but underneath it all, a careful study of their utterances and writings would reveal immense sadness, pessimism, hollowness, helplessness and hopelessness.
- Isolation: Gradual or Sudden withdrawal from friends, loved ones, social activities, social circles, hobbies etc also are possible symptoms of behavior prone to depression.
- Asking questions or engaging in conversations with other people and seeking their validation or justification for suicide.
- Surfing the internet on ways to die or posting write- ups on social media platforms about ending one’s life.
- Making open or subtle threats about taking their own lives and saying things such as: “I am tired of this life ooooo !, “I will just kill myself oooo”!. Unfortunately, most people ignore such threats or treat them with levity.
- Mood swing is a major risk factor for suicide:
- Sudden desire to be alone.
- Sudden unusual calmness.
- Sudden excitement: becoming unnecessarily and overtly happy without any plausible explanation
- Sudden loss of interest or pleasure in activities the person previously enjoyed.
- Sudden fascination with, and bearing of, weapons and poisonous substances by the individuals.
- Sudden loss of appetite or sudden increase in appetite.
- Changes in personality for example a person known to be an extrovert suddenly becomes introverted or vice-versa.
- Becomes less concerned about his or her personal appearance or suddenly starts putting their affairs in order
- The person starts talking to himself, gesticu lating to unseen entity.
- The person begins to move with an unusual speed or slowness.
- The person may start engaging in ways that may cause him harm:
- Staring into space
- Becoming unusually fascinated with water sources, bridges, narcotics, alcohol etc.
- Running into moving vehicles.
- Jumping from hill tops, high rise buildings, telecommunication masts etc.
- Disfiguring the body through scratching, cutting, marking, hitting himself with stick etc.
- Going against doctor’s prescription such as taking overdose of drugs or not taking at all indicating that the person no longer values his or her life.
- Resort to use of drugs and alcohol to get high, numb pains, succumb to peer pressures.
- Unfortunately, overdosing is quite prevalent amongst users and these can lead to complications or even death.
- Sudden and effusive calls/visitation to family members and friends. This might be their own way of saying final goodbye to all his loved ones before taking his own life.
- Other acts that may also signpost the individual’s resolve to take his or her life include:
- Sudden giving away of personal possessions.
- Asking for forgiveness even when you cannot explain the reason for such request.
- Making sober statements like: “take care of my children, parents, husband, wife” etc.
- Sudden writing of will. Some people will write a note before committing suicide.
When you see or notice any of these signs, better attention should be paid to the person and all the necessary support provided. “If you see or notice something, do something”!
Kindly look forward to PART 2 which deals on ‘TIPS TO OVERCOME SUICIDAL THOUGHTS’
Authored by DCP Frank Mba, Nigeria Police Force PRO