Some people who are contemplating suicide may show signs. Others who know these signs can pick up on them and take action, potentially saving the life of the person in question. If the person survives a suicide attempt, it is important to know how to get the necessary medical help. The use of alcohol or drugs can make a suicide attempt more likely. The risk of future suicide attempts may be reduced by getting psychological help in the form of counseling and similar mental support.
Noticing the Signs
Signs typically exhibited by those who are about to attempt to kill themselves may include talking about suicide and feelings of hopelessness. People may become anxious or angry or may withdraw from everyone. Some potential suicides may visit people they have not seen for a long time, putting their affairs in order. If someone is accumulating medicines, drugs or alcohol or suddenly acquires a gun, this can foreshadow a prospective suicide attempt.
Talking to people directly, asking if they are feeling low enough to consider suicide and if they have made any plans may be the best prevention. If someone is considering suicide, try to ask when they are planning to end their lives and how. Don’t judge and get help right away by contacting a doctor or mental health professional and ensuring an appointment takes place. Arguing with people to try and change their minds about attempting suicide can make things worse. Remove any weapons or drugs that may be used to make an attempt and do not leave people alone.
If prevention does not work and someone attempts suicide, someone needs to take the person to hospital for treatment. The risk of a follow-up suicide attempt is high after people are released from hospital, so remove any firearms, drugs or alcohol from the home before they return. Suicide survivors may experience a variety of emotions, but friends and family can help by making it clear that they love and support the person. It is wise to suggest the person receives counseling from a mental health professional. The best support means allowing a person to talk when they are ready and not expressing anger or blame.
Drug and alcohol abuse can make people less likely to function in everyday life, increasing stress and isolation and making suicide a possibility. Mental health disorders such as depression, which raise a person’s suicide risk, can also lead to drink and drug abuse. Although drug and alcohol abuse do not necessarily cause suicide, they are associated with a greater suicide risk. Alcohol and drugs can make people more aggressive and impulsive and this means people are more likely to attempt suicide. An intoxicated person is also more likely to choose a suicide method that is lethal, increasing the chance of a successful attempt.
Extra help is often needed to prevent people from attempting suicide and to stop future attempts. Professionals such as doctors, or health workers in community clinics, may provide useful support. For some people, church leaders might be able to offer guidance. When young people are at risk of suicide, schools may have counselors who can provide effective support. Where drug or alcohol abuse is a contributing factor, or a mental illness such as depression, people should be helped to find the right treatment.