The whole ordeal really affected me. I was an emotional wreck. I had feelings of guilt and kept asking myself, ‘what could I have done to prevent this?’ Maybe I could have spent more time with him instead of being so wrapped up in my life. Maybe I could have been more alert and paid more attention to the signs. Maybe I could have done a little more to help him.
I was beating myself up playing the ‘Maybe I could have’ game.
I thank God everyday that my brother’s suicide attempted failed. He’s getting the help he needs and we’re spending a lot more time together. Things are getting a lot better. He’s smiling and laughing again. He’s on the road to recovery.
So why am I writing about something so personal and private in my life? Well, if my story helps just one person, it will all be worth it. You see, we were lucky, but unfortunately many are not. Hopefully with this article, it will help you recognize the warning signs or help you understand and deal with your feelings.
First of all, what are the possible suicide warning signs to look for?
- Talk of suicide (even in a joking manner)
- Recent loss (divorce, death, job, religious faith, separation, etc.)
- Previous suicide attempt
- Change in personality or behavior
- Change in sleep or eating patterns
- Sexual problems (impotence, erectile dysfunction)
- Low self esteem
- No hope for the future
- Substance abuse
- Giving away favorite belongings
- Making arrangements for pets
- Making out a will
- Giving up on life
So, let’s ask ourselves, ‘Why do people give up on life?’ Well, I’m a firm believer in the fact that many of those who take their lives do not want to die as much as they want to ‘end whatever is going on.’ They want the pain to stop.
Although the reasons why people commit suicide can vary, certain events in life can also trigger suicide. Some of these could be:
- Family or relationship problems
- Financial or work-related problems
- Retirement or physical illness, especially in elderly people.
Another triggering factor of suicide (and probably the most common) has nothing to do with anything on a social level, such as a job or relationship. That triggering factor has to do with a person’s brain chemistry, which, in turn, causes Depression.
Depression is one of the leading causes of suicide. The thing to remember is, Depression can be treated successfully. Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can be reversed.
Millions of people everyday cope with the problems and stresses of this world, so that nothing new. It’s the way a person’s mind and heart react to the pressures that lead some to kill themselves. So when the underlying factors are dealt with, many people react differently to the problems and stresses that can trigger suicide.
It’s important to realize that suicide is a ‘permanent solution to a temporary problem.’ One expert described it by saying, ‘Committing suicide is like treating a cold with a nuclear bomb.’ Suicide is never justified.
I feel I have to mention the fact that sometimes it’s only easy to recognize signs of suicidal feelings after the fact. The present is a different story. Many times this is because it’s almost impossible to know what another person is thinking and feeling. We’re not mind readers and it doesn’t help when many suicidal people just don’t open up and talk about their innermost feelings to others, even to close family and friends.
That was the case with my brother. He is a very quiet person who rarely spoke of his problems or things that bothered him.
So how can family, friends or others help?
Well, first of all remember that all suicide attempts should be treated seriously. There is no room for error. Studies have shown that ’20-30% of people who attempted suicide will repeat their attempt with a year.’ The study goes on to show that ‘more than 50% of suicides (in the United States) occur in people who have had no contact with a mental health professional.’ So as mentioned earlier, there is help available. Your condition can be helped. No situation is hopeless.
Another way that family and friends can help is to remember that sometimes an attempted suicide is a cry for help. So naturally family members and friends want to do and say the right thing to the one who has lost hope. One of the main things to remember is not to patronize them. They know what they did and why they did it, so they don’t need to be babied.
Also, it will not help to use expressions like: ‘Get over it,’ ‘A lot of people are worse off than you,’ ‘Stop feeling sorry for yourself’ and ‘Snap out of it.’ Instead, try to be there for them. Be a good listener and listen to whatever they have to say. Be a real friend to them. Stress to them that even though you cannot fully understand how bad they feel, the experience of others is proof things will get better.
In the case of my brother, my family all gathered together and discussed how we’d go about helping him. We made time for him and showed him how much we loved him. Don’t get me wrong, there were mistakes along the way. There were some that patronized him and treated him like a porcelain doll. Some seemed to be walking around on egg shells around him. He didn’t need that. My brother told me how bad that made him feel. That’s how I knew what to write in this article.
All this experience has brought my brother and I closer than ever. I thank God he is getting well.
The best advice I can give anyone out there who has gone through anything similar to my experience is to try to help their loved one by showing them that life, which should be their most prized possession, is worth living.
In conclusion, if Someone You Love Tries to Hurt Themselves, remember, it’s not your fault. Stop beating yourself or blaming yourself. Get them the help they need. Be there for them. Don’t patronize them. Show them you care.
I hope I was able to help you by relating my personal and private experience.
Good luck to you all,
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About The Author
Anna Allen is author of several articles on depression and grief. Visit her depression website at: NIMH Depression Page or visit her Depression Blog which contains helpful articles that are updated daily: http://depressionadviceonline.blogspot.com/