Recognising and Handling Suicidal Thoughts
Nearly all of us at some point have had thoughts of suicide. For most, these thoughts are fleeting and immediately shrugged off, but for others, suicidal thoughts are a persistent problem that can lead to the act itself.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, about 2,100 people in Australia will commit suicide this year. Efforts to recognize the problem and provide support have been helpful. Over the past decade, suicide deaths in Australia have decreased by more than 20 percent. Recognizing danger signs such as persistent thoughts of suicide can help you save your own life or a loved ones.
Recognising Trouble Signs
Threats or statements about suicide should be taken seriously. While not every person who says something about suicide actually plans to go through with it, it’s impossible to read a person’s mind to tell. If someone you know is making statements about suicide, take them aside and talk to them. In many cases, you’ll find that your friend or acquaintance is just having a bad day, and your concern will likely help buoy them up. In other cases, reaching out to them may help them avoid falling victim to their thoughts of despair.
If you’re having suicidal thoughts, you’ll want to reach out for help if the thoughts are persistent over a period of time, if they are particularly intense, or if you find yourself making specific plans regarding suicide.
There are some changes that can be made to help someone struggling with thoughts of suicide.
- For people facing an immediate crisis and who are considering suicide, calling a crisis line or finding another way to postpone the decision is important. If you’re considering suicide or know someone who is, find yourself or them someone to talk to or an outlet to channel thoughts away from suicide.
- Improving your diet and exercising can help with underlying depression issues that may be contributing to thoughts of suicide.
- Get involved. The more social connections you have, the less likely it is that you’ll fall victim to thoughts of suicide. Join a civic or social group, volunteer in worthy causes or reconnect with family or friends.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. For people struggling with depression and thoughts of self-harm, drugs and alcohol are an extremely harmful influence because they can play havoc with mood and emotion. People struggling with thoughts of self-harm should strongly avoid drinking and/or drug use.
- Seeking the help of a mental health professional is also recommended for people dealing with thoughts of suicide. Mental health professionals can help determine if chemical or biological factors are playing a role and prescribe medication if appropriate.
If you or someone you know is having issues with suicidal thoughts or is coping with the loss of a loved one through suicide, organizations such as the Western Sydney Suicide Prevention and Support Network can put you in touch with several groups that have the resources and tools necessary to help.