Family Involvement in Suicide Prevention

May 2nd, 2011
Suicide is becoming a glaring as well as sad cause for premature deaths. The family must understand it's responsibility and power in preventing suicides.

Every individual looks forward to a happy and fulfilling life with his family; but there are certain unfortunate individuals and families who go through the agonies of suicidal tendencies. The individual who attempts suicide may have a tendency or may be suffering from a trauma, depression or stress. The family members suffer no less as they remain in constant anxiety regarding the suicidal individual and needs to keep total vigilance on him. This is not an easy task and neither is the situation normal. The person going through the suicidal tendency may be in a very pathetic condition; for him suicide is the last option when he may feel that all doors to his happiness has closed and being alive is only creating more pain for him and his loved ones. He thinks in a very negative way and feels that the only solution lies in ending him.

Many times the family may not be understanding or recognizing the warning signs; to them the withdrawal and depressive signs and symptoms of the suicidal person may seem just a phase which will get over. Many families have repented later feeling that if only they could have understood the signs and prevented losing their loved one through suicide. Family members or close friends must never hesitate to feel free and talk with the concerned person whom they suspect to be contemplating suicide. Their assuring words, love and support may make the person change his mind about suicide. If the family is unable to help they should immediately seek professional help to save the life from suicide.

Facts about suicide

To identify the warning signs and symptoms of suicide we must first know certain important facts about suicide. It is commonly thought that those who are contemplating suicide don’t actually talk about it. This is a very wrong judgment. Often those who have spoken about ending themselves or kept referring to their death and had not been taken seriously had actually ended up committing suicide. Therefore verbal references to suicide should be taken seriously.

A person not necessarily has to be suffering from a mental disorder to commit suicide. Many people who are not diagnosed of any mental illness may not be psychologically well equipped or strong to handle a mishap or a misfortune. They may remain depressed and extremely sad until they take such a drastic step as suicide.

Another wrong belief about suicidal person is that nothing can prevent them from committing suicide. Well it should be mentioned here that the persons who commit suicide are in many cases do it in an impulse without actually intending to do so. Suicidal people actually don’t want to commit suicide; its just that they have lost their self esteem drastically which needs to be reassured. It’s also not true they don’t ask for help; in many cases they had taken help before committing suicide. Nobody can create fear by speaking gloomy things about suicide; rather it’s wise and logical to face the issue and speak to the person in a loving and friendly way while trying to make him realize the futility of suicide and utility of life.

Identifying possible suicide victims

People who have a mental disorder like psychotic or mood disorders like depression or bipolar disorder are more prone to suicidal attempts. People who carry a family history or are victims of substance abuse may also contemplate suicide sometime or the other. Many times an otherwise normally functioning person may also fall into a vicious and dangerous circle of hopelessness and despair that he may contemplate suicide. Identifying and understanding such victims are more difficult as they don’t have the predisposing conditions for suicidal tendencies. Family members have to be more careful with teenagers as they are passing through an emotionally vulnerable age when they can act in an impulse if they are hurt and may harm themselves fatally. Suicides are often committed in an impulse; a failure in exam, a breakup or heart break or a public humiliation all may mount up to an unpredictable suicide. 

Identifying possible signs and symptoms of an impending suicide

The most important signs of an impending suicide are repeated references to death either verbally or even non-verbally like writing about death. Hopelessness and depression should also be taken seriously. Sometimes the suicidal individual may be collecting sleeping pills or deadly objects. A prevailing sense of self loathing, loss of self esteem, hopelessness and doom keeps the person occupied. There may be a sudden change in behavior like preparing a will, distributing loved objects and saying things like “all will be fine now” or “there won’t be any more grief” or “goodbye” and also making proper provisions and arrangements for loved ones.  Their death wish may become apparent in their reckless behaviors and becoming aloof from everybody.

Family involvement in suicide prevention

A family should remember that what family members can do together may even be more powerful and effective than what experts can do. The love, support and assurance from family members can create wonders and change the life pattern of the self doomed suicidal person. The best way is to talk and find out what the person has to say, assist him in speaking up rather than letting him be by himself.

Simply listening and letting the person give vent to his negative feelings can make a big difference. It’s better to be approached by the family member to whom the person is most close with; may be a parent, a grand parent or a sibling or may be even a relative. Avoid any sort of argument; rather provide support and hope. Give examples or make up examples where people have come out from similar distressing situations and are now doing very well in life.

Parents of teenagers must avoid putting excess stress on them for better performance; they must not over protect or show indifference to their kids. Keep a balance between protection and a level of trust. Rather than blaming the kid for a wrong doing be supportive if the kid is depressed and grieving for a mishap like failure.

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