Healthy Mind and Body, A Resource Guide to Suicide Prevention

Nearly one million people die due to suicide each year, according to the World Health Organization. Suicide not only impacts individuals, it impacts entire communities, including families and friends. In many cases, people who are considering suicide exhibit warning signs. If a friend or family member is concerned that a person is suicidal, they should take action right away. People who feel suicidal may also want to seek out help. At The Medifast Plan, we believe that a healthy lifestyle does not end with simply eating healthy.  It is a matter of mind and body balance, and in an effort to help visitors to our site who may be looking for help, we have compiled the following information about suicide prevention.

Noticing the Signs

There are usually several warning signs when a person is considering suicide. The person may become preoccupied with death and may speak opening about killing themselves or wishing that they were dead. They may make attempts to obtain instruments with which to harm or kill themselves, such as knives or guns. Some people may obtain pills or other drugs.

People who are suicidal may feel hopeless. A common feeling is that of being trapped, and that death is the only way to escape the pain and suffering. Some people are angry while others withdraw from their circle of friends and family. Once they have made the decision to commit suicide, they may seem more relaxed or happy.

A person contemplating suicide may change their behavior drastically. They may start acting recklessly. For example, they may disobey traffic laws, engage in unsafe sex, or take drugs or drink alcohol. Other behavioral signs of suicide include saying goodbye to friends and family and putting their affairs in order. A suicidal person may prepare a will or focus attention on other end of life affairs. They may give items away, including possessions they love and cherish.

Precautions to Take

If a friend or family member is suicidal, a person can take precautions to help prevent the suicide. Talking openly with a person about suicide can be beneficial. It is important that a person not be judgmental or argumentative when discussing suicide with a friend or relative. They should also not promise that they will not tell anyone about the other person’s suicidal thoughts. They should direct the suicidal person to a professional counselor or doctor for help.

In some cases, immediate action is needed. If a person has their suicide planned out and has the instruments needed to carry it out, the friend should call 911 or take the person to the emergency room. They can also contact a crisis center. It’s important to remove any weapons or drugs from the area and to make sure that the person is not left alone.

What to Do Following a Suicide Attempt

People need support and love after an attempt at suicide. While feelings of anger are common, it does not help a suicide survivor if their friends and family express anger towards them. Instead, friends and family should let the person know that they are loved and that they support them. Avoiding the person who attempted suicide can make recovery more difficult for them.

Professional counseling can be helpful for the person who attempted suicide and for family and friends. A relative or friend may wish to offer to connect the person to a counselor or spiritual advisor. If the suicide attempt was connected to depression or another mental illness, the person may also wish to see a doctor and begin taking medication. Friends and family should tell the person that they are willing to listen to any concerns the person may have at the present or in the future.

Suicide in Conjunction with Drugs and Alcohol

Depression is the most common risk factor for suicide while substance abuse is the second most common risk factor. Using drugs and alcohol changes the way a person’s brain works. Drugs and alcohol abuse can cause depression or cause a person to act impulsively. In 2007, the National Violent Death Reporting System noted that alcohol played a role in one-third of all suicides. Many suicides are the result of an intentional overdose of either alcohol or drugs, or a combination.

Where to Turn For Help

People who have suicidal thoughts and friends or family members of a suicidal person have several options for help. In the event of a crisis or emergency, a person should call 911 or visit the local emergency room. Another option is to call the National Suicide Prevention lifeline or a local suicide prevention hotline. People can also help the suicidal person find a counselor or other mental health professional. Some areas have free counseling services for people who do not have health insurance.