The Brutal Truth About Suicide and How To Prevent It

clock 5 Min Read

Brencia Daphne

29th October, 2021

We are all so used to certainty and things going according to our plans. When things start to feel uncertain or unsafe, it is

TRIGGER WARNING: This article talks about sensitive issues like suicide, self-harm and drug use.

“Are you okay?” is a question that can be both daunting and overwhelming for anyone put on the spot. Although these questions come from a place of concern and empathy, usually, they hold the power to make us feel jittery when there really is a lot going on. At that very moment, being able to recollect the value of pi seems easier than gathering our thoughts to answer how we truly feel. This does not suggest an absence of feelings but rather indicates the struggle of being unaware of what these emotions truly mean. We might find it hard to connect these dots and understand how these thoughts come into play. Each individual embodies these feelings differently.

Why Do People Choose To Kill Themselves?

A number of us choose to suffer silently.

We do so because of the stigma attached to it. If our suffering is seen by the world, we might be treated unfairly, our skills might take a backseat — in fact, our entire being will be reduced to this suffering.

When we speak of suicide, we often (intentionally or unintentionally) use a pitiful tone. Those who silently suffer don’t need our pity, they need our awareness and compassion.

Contrary to popular belief, suicide is not caused when a person has no will to live. A person takes this step when they feel that ending everything will put them out of misery. Putting an end to all feelings seems like a better option than allowing oneself to feel them with such intensity. Suicide is not wanting death, it is wanting to end the misery and suffering. When we understand this, it is easier to be empathetic. It becomes easier to be human. It becomes easier to care.

Depression is said to be the leading cause of suicide, especially in India. It is a persistent feeling of sadness characterised by low mood and loss of desire for something that we enjoyed previously.

Signs that one can be aware of are :

  • changes in diet
  • changes in sleeping patterns
  • restlessness or lethargy
  • showing disinterest in daily life tasks.

Treat such things as red flags and open the conversation. Any persistent long term changes that one might be feeling could be telling signs of depression.

What Can I Do If I Find Myself Having Suicidal Thoughts?

One can think of such thoughts due to various reasons. In case you are faced with suicidal thoughts, the first step would be to accept your feelings. Once you accept it, then only you can begin to understand it,

Hence, whenever you feel suicidal, here are some things you can think about to avoid spiralling:

  1. What could be the reason for these thoughts?
  2. Why do I feel this way?
  3. How often have I been feeling like this lately?

Reach out to anybody who you think is available. You could call or text them.

Tell this friend/ family member/mental health professional/ colleague how you have been feeling.

Tell them why you think this way and how you think they could help you.

Examples of these are:

  • Hey, I have been feeling _________________, do you think you can check up on me?
  • Hey, for some time now ___________________ and similar thoughts have been going on in my mind, can you help me find some therapists?
  • Hey, I don’t feel safe with myself, do you think you could come over and watch over me for some time?

Be clear with what you want this person to do for you, so they can effectively help you.

If you are not sure, do not hesitate to be honest and let them know — simply having them by your side can be effective, given the circumstance. When you find yourself having suicidal thoughts, it is important to pause and reflect. Understand that it is okay to feel this way, and there are very valid reasons for you to feel this.

What Can I Do If A Loved One Is Having Suicidal Thoughts?

If a friend confides to you about them being suicidal, your first step can be giving them the space to be heard. They might cry, they might be angry or upset, and that is okay, you don’t need to console them, just don’t leave them isolated.

  • If you are not closely bonded, make sure you inform somebody close to them.

  • Take their words seriously and try not to brush away their thoughts.

  • When you suspect that somebody is suicidal, act right and act fast.

  • Physical safety is supremely important.

  • If you are away from them, inform somebody in the same location as them to check in on them.

  • Refrain from giving advice.

  • Accept when they say that they feel the problem is too overbearing.

  • Accept all their emotions — except them saying that suicide could be an option.

  • Once they feel better, gently direct them towards professional help.

  • Guide them and help them find a mental health professional so that they can create an emotionally safe space for themselves.

Sometimes, you might not be in a space to handle this. When you feel too overwhelmed, try to relay this to the person.

Try not to directly reject them, but give them support in a way that you are capable of doing so. Sometimes witnessing somebody having suicidal thoughts can be triggering, please prioritise your life. You cannot help your friend properly if you are in murky waters yourself.

The Importance Of Suicide Awareness And Prevention

We need to be aware of the stigma attached to suicide and mental health.

To start, be more mindful of how we use the words “death” or “dying”. When we become less oblivious to the stigma, our perspective changes for the better.

We are all aware of the household phrase, “Prevention is better than cure”.

Especially, in this context, “prevention” plays an important role in decreasing the risk of suicide and overall suicide rates. It is crucial to help those who are suffering, to get back on their feet. Encourage them to speak to a mental health professional.

Organisations such as the Suicide Prevention India Foundation (SPIF), and AASRA work meticulously towards raising awareness and prevention of suicide, as part of the prevention strategies. Even on our Heart It Out website, you will find links on how to Help A Friend if they are going through some mental health problems.

All of us deserve a happy and fulfilling life. A happy life, in times like these, however, feels more like a privilege than a right. We need to look at suicide from an intersectional lens. Understand the why of suicide, and what led to it, rather than who did it.

What external stressors were a part of this human’s life that contributed to the risk factors, and what could have led them to make this decision?

When somebody takes their own life, it leaves behind nothing but destruction.

Destruction in the form of grieving family members who try to come to terms with the loss, friends who wish they took action when they realised the person might be suffering, or acquaintances and colleagues who look for signs they might have missed, hoping they can be more aware and learning.

Take, for instance, the polarising effect a Bollywood actor’s death had on the masses. A loss that was much popularized by the media, has finally made people more aware of the importance of mental health. There has been a flood of posts on depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses or disorders that can lead to suicidal ideation. People are finally talking about it openly.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean we are equipped to handle this. Awareness and prevention of suicide are yet to be fully optimized. We as a society have a long way to go before we reach true empathy and inclusion. Till then we can strive to be more aware, compassionate and be a better listener to our loved ones.

-Written by Devyani Singh and edited by Priya Darshini, Brencia D, and Nishtha N for Heart It Out

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