Not Just A 'Cry For Help'

Discussion in 'The Coffee House' started by Dragon, Aug 15, 2007.

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  1. Dragon

    Dragon Staff Alumni

    Random booklet I picked up in the doctors. Funny how I knew just from the title that it would be about suicide. Wasn't sure where to put this, but I figure here is fine.


    This booklet is for you if you know someone who has made a suicide attempt.

    It gives some guidance on how you can help him or her through the crisis, and offers some information about organisations that can help you to help them.

    Knowing that someone we care about is feeling suicidal can be emotionally and physically draining. It is important to look after your own health, and to make time to get support and advice for yourself too.

    You are not alone

    Attempted suicide is far more common in England than most of us realise. In England and Wales, more than 140,000 poeple are admitted to accident and emergency departments each year because they have tried to kill themselves.

    Although most people who attempt suicide survive, a few remain at high risk of taking their own life for quite some time afterwards. This means that any suicide attempt, however minor it seems to be, should be taken seriously.

    Why did it happen?
    Thinking about suicide

    Suicidal thoughts can coincide with times of change - whether these changes are 'good' (like getting married or starting a new job), or 'bad' (such as someone dying or the end of a relationship). Quite often two or three different things will have happened, each of them causing considerable stress.

    For some people there may be no apparent reason for these thoughts.

    The circumstances leading up to a suicide attempt are different for everybody, and the reasons for it happening may never be fully explained or understood.

    Often those who think about suicide are depressed. Usually very sensitive people, they may have been in despair, feeling hopeless about the future and unable to think straight. Everyday worries have become totally out of proportion, and black thoughts may have left no room for anyone or anything else.

    Acting on the thought

    Turning thoughts about suicide into action is sometimes done impulse, perhaps following an event that is seen as 'the last straw'. This is especially true of young people.

    Others, however, may have been making plans about suicide for some time.

    Using alcohol and/or other drugs can make things worse. They take away the inhibitions which would otherwise stop someone from attempting to take their own life.

    It's hard to talk...

    about fears and feelings - even to those we know love and care about us. This can prevent other peopple from recognising the distress and being able to help in a crisis.

    Words are often totally inadequate to convey the amount of pain a person may be suffering.

    It is easy to understand that someone is hurting if they have been badly injured or are physically ill. Emotional pain cannot be seen, but it can be just as unbearable.

    Sometimes attempting suicide may be the only way to show other people how bad things are.

    'When your back is up against the wall,
    suicide can seem to be the only way

    What can be done to help?
    Do keep 'ALERT'...

    Ask them how they were feeling before it happened and how they are feeling now. Talking about suicide does not make it more likely to happen. Try to be patient if they are angry or refuse to talk. It may be that writing things down is an easier way for them to communicate with you.

    Listen - this is the most important thing you can do. Treat them with respect, and try not to be judgemental or critical.

    Empathise by showing that you are really trying to understand things from their point of view. Words don't always matter. The touch of a hand or a hug can go a long way to show that you care.

    Reassure them that desperate feelings are very common and can be overcome. Things can and do change, help can be found and there is hope for the future. People do get better!

    Try to give practical support, and help them cope with any extra pressures. It may not be possible to deal with all the things that are troubling them, but between you agree on what you will do if a suicidal crisis happens again.

    ...And DON'T...

    Put them down or do things that might make them feel worse. A suicide attempt suggests that self esteem is already very low.

    Abandon or reject them in any way. Your help, support and attention are vital if they are to begin to feel that life is worth living again. Don't relax your attentions just because they seem to be better. It does not mean that life is back to normal for them yet. They may be at risk for quite a while.

    Nag - although it may be well meant. Nobody wants to be pestered all the time. Don't intrude - try to balance being watchful with a respect for privacy.

    Ignore what has happened.

    Criticise their actions - however you may be feeling about their suicide attempt, try to remember the pain and turmoil that they were, and may still be, going through. Don't take their behaviour personally - it was not necessarily directed at you.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 15, 2007
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