Not so long ago, anytime I heard someone committed suicide or attempted suicide, I got livid and almost cuss out the person but in recent times, I’ve been reading a lot about the way the brain works, studying OCD, ADHD, Autism and other brain-related disorders.
Understanding the workings of the brain has made me understand that suicide can also be a mental thing and victims sometimes have no control over their suicidal thoughts/ suicide attempts and some of them need help.
-Causes of suicide
Causes of suicide vary from one person to another but depression is one of the root causes of suicide and suicidal thoughts. Check out ways to avoid and fight depression.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the world, Nigerians used to be called one of the happiest people in the world but in the last few years, there’s been a lot of news about suicide and attempted suicide using Sniper INSECTICIDE, jumping over a bridge or by hanging. Some studies show that men are likely to commit suicide compared to women, but why is this so? What really causes suicide?
Loss of a loved one
Chronic end-stage terminal illnesses
Overwhelming life stress
Losing hope: Inability to see past the present circumstances and see the future.
These struggles put undue pressure on a person(s) to begin to see life as something they didn’t sign up for and tries to find an escape route out of it all.
Before a person commits suicide, if they ever do, it begins with suicidal thought, a passive idea of how bad their life is and questions about if the life is worth living, if those thoughts are not squashed, it will move up to active suicide ideation where a person begins to plan how to take their own life and makes a deliberate effort to make it happen.
According to osmosis, this is an acronym to identify risk factors for suicide
S= male Sex
A= age below 19 and above 45
P= previous suicide attempts
E = excess alcohol and substance abuse
R = rational thinking loss
S = separated or single
O = overdose on pills
N = no social life /support
S = sickness
-How to prevent suicide
When you talk to people who have attempted suicide you hear them say things like; I keep thinking about suicide and I can’t help it, I don’t wanna live anymore, why are we really here? I can’t help thinking about killing myself. These words may not sound like a big deal to certain people because they never have to think about them. In fact, I was shocked when a friend who is a counselling psychologist told me about her multiple suicide attempts as a young girl and once as an adult, this goes to say that it can be anyone.
The CDC reports that more than half of people who died by suicide didn’t have a known, diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death.
I always tell myself that no matter how bad things are, I want to see how it all ends because life is like a movie to me with sad, happy, and suspenseful moments but some people’s threshold for pain and suffering is slim. That thing that you would shrug off, will keep someone else sad and depressed.
Suicide prevention goes both ways- for family and friends of people who may be suicidal and the persons as well.
-How do we help people with suicidal thoughts prevent suicide?
Managing negative thoughts and suicidal thoughts: there are so many people out there with suicidal thoughts and strong dark emotions, oftentimes, they are ashamed and scared to talk about it. It is ok to share your feelings, even though a larger part of your brain may try to make you keep your sad emotions a secret because of the thought that you might be a burden to family and friends. People who care about you and even random strangers will love to help, so share your sad emotions.
Avoid excessive alcohol drinking: there’s a strong link between alcohol abuse and suicide. It is said that some people indulge excessively in alcohol to drown suicidal thoughts but that’s a wrong way to manage those thoughts. The rate of suicide is eight times higher when alcohol is abused. If you think you may be suicidal, avoid excessive drugs and alcohol as it may inhibit sane and right judgement to stop any suicidal act.
Avoid eating poorly: bad eating habits and eating disorders have been associated with suicide. These eating disorders have to do with the way an individual perceives themselves (bulimia, anorexia and binge eating disorders). They think they are either too fat or too thin and no one would ever love them. This may eventually lead to suicide. Eat whole foods and a balanced diet, also eat foods that can increase your dopamine level
Stop Isolating: good friends and happy people make life more interesting and worth living. They make you look forward to the next day and fun events. There are days that I go to church not for religious or spiritual purposes but just to meet those people who make church interesting, we’ll eat, make noise and jokes and just have a good time afterwards. If you have those depressing suicidal thoughts, stop being a recluse, make friends, mix up with people and go for fun events. These little things can boost your mood and make life worth living.
Take up an activity: working out helps. Workout is a proven way to increase your dopamine level. This hormone is responsible for pleasure and gratification, an increase in this hormone keeps one alert, happy and looking forward to more gratification. Find other activities that make you excited and do them.
Find that person that excites you, either a partner or a friend. Being single and alone is one of the risk factors for suicide. So find that person or persons that make you happy. You will not want to live without them or hurt them if the thought of taking your life creeps in. being single is also thought to be a risk factor for suicide
How to help a Friend
If you have a friend who is suicidal or talks suicidal, assist them by making them seek help from a doctor or psychologist.
Stop being judgmental, the fact that your mind is clear of suicidal thoughts doesn’t mean the person battling those thoughts is weak. When and if they open up to you, avoid making comments that will make them shut people out.
Drop the talk of religion, most religions say suicide is a sin but this is not the time for religion. There’s a time to talk about religion and a time to be real and help people live and feel better. Positive toxicity is what most Christians and religious people practice and it needs to stop; allow people to accept that they feel terrible so that they can find help, things don’t have to be “good vibes only”.
Sometimes all you need to do is listen and validate the person’s feelings. Some people bottle up all their pain and it begins to weigh heavily on them, and it builds this unbearable pain and heaviness. When they get comfortable and have the opportunity to vent or talk, just listen and offer necessary counsel, only don’t talk down or generalise their feelings.
Most importantly, talk to a counsellor, find a suicide helpline in your country or state and talk to someone. Silence those voices in your head, seek help, talk to someone, life is fun and it is worth living.
This article was clinically reviewed by Ese Ayaebene a Counselling Psychologist, you can also share your story with her, she will be glad to counsel you if you need help.