Suicide and Crisis
What is suicide?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is when people direct violence at themselves with the intent to end their lives, and die as a result of their actions. Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States.
- 41,149 people killed themselves in 2013
- Over 494,169 people with self-inflicted injuries were treated in U.S. emergency departments in 2013
- Suicide results in an estimated $44.6 billion in combined medical and work loss costs
According to the Helpguide.org “Are you feeling Suicidal?” there is no simple answer as to why people choose to kill themselves. Usually, the emotional upset is so great that the person "just wants to stop the pain." The psychological distress seems so unbearable that solutions other than suicide recede into the background of the mind. Usually a combination of events leads a person to believe that suicide is the only way out. One common thread is that the person feels hopeless about life. Feelings of hopelessness and of low self-esteem can have many causes:
- Breaking up of a close relationship with a loved one or difficulties in interpersonal relationships with family or close friends.
- Worry about grades and concerns about failure or doing less well than one hoped or expected. The strains of intense competition for high achievement can be overwhelming.
- Concerns over physical appearance and personal attractiveness (or lack of it).
- Loss of "support systems" or "emotional safety." New students often have difficulty finding friends and colleagues in their new environment; consequently, they experience a sense of loss and alienation.
- Pessimistic feelings about the future and meeting one's goals, together with an enormous sense of unhappiness.
- The compounding and disorienting effects of alcohol and other drugs.
- Above all, just feeling lonely and isolated, abandoned and alone.
Students at Acute Risk
- Students with psychiatric disorder such as a major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder may be at acute risk for suicidal behavior when there is a crisis or negative life change.
- Acute risk is thought to be time limited and can last from minutes to hours to days.
Students at Chronic Risk
- Students with a long history of impulsivity, substance abuse, dysfunctional childhood history (e.g. sexual abuse) can be at elevated risk for a lengthy period of time.
According to Helpguide.org (https://www.helpguide.org/articles/suicide-prevention/suicide-help-dealing-with-your-suicidal-thoughts-and-feelings.htm), suicide is a desperate cry for help. Usually it is preceded by clues or warning signs that indicate an individual is considering suicide as a way out. Recognizing these warning signs is the key to prevention. When someone:
- Threatens to end his or her life.
- Implies that he or she will not be around in the future.
- Gives away prized personal possessions.
- Goes from being extremely depressed to unusually happy overnight.
- Has purchased or acquired a rope or gun.
- Exhibits extreme self-dissatisfaction frequently due to loss (of a loved one, self-esteem, employment, health or money).
- Increases alcohol or drug abuse.
- Exhibits personality and behavior changes.
- Falls into periods of deep depression.
- No longer cares about college, work or social activities.
- Talks a lot about death, dying and life-after-death possibilities.
- Shows a marked lack of energy or enthusiasm.
- Isolates him or herself from friends and family.
How to cope with suicidal thoughts
- See a therapist or psychiatrist to talk about your feelings and work on your thoughts.
- Talk with someone every day (friends or family). You can also call a crisis hotline to talk about your feelings.
- Make a safety plan: Develop steps that you can follow during a suicidal crisis, include contact numbers.
- Make a written schedule for a regular routine.
- Make time for things that brig you joy.
- Remember your personal goals.
- Avoid being alone, alcohol/drugs, doing things that make you feel worse and thinking about suicide and other negative thoughts.
How to help someone who is suicidal
- Become aware of others around you. Take time to listen; the simple act of showing you care can make the difference between a person attempting suicide or seeking help.
- Learn to recognize the subtle clues and warning signs of the troubled individual.
- When you suspect someone is suicidal or in need, contact an expert who can provide practical, knowledgeable aid.
- One good rule is not to take full responsibility by yourself, but find the best possible resources that can help the troubled person.
- Experts in suicide prevention have learned that suicidal feelings are temporary. Crises can be resolved; help is available.
- The suicidal crisis is usually not what the person thinks it is - a crisis of abandonment or emotional pain. In reality, it is a crisis of unclear thinking, and can be helped by psychological, psychiatric and social treatment. A good rule of life is: Never do any serious, irreversible act while you are upset.
- If you suspect that someone you know is suicidal, don't be afraid to talk about it. The clues you may be hearing or seeing are often an unconscious invitation for you to help. Most suicidal people have opposing feelings of wanting to die and at the same time wanting to live. Ask the person about his or her feelings and the changes that you gave noticed. Let the person know that you want to help.
*Please call 911 if you are feeling suicidal. If you are on campus, please contact campus police or walk into the Health and Wellness center for support.