Family works

Speaking on suicide

Rob Coombs ID. Min. Ph.D.
Posted 4/2/17

We often think of the holiday season as a time a depressed person might commit suicide. In reality, the highest incidence of suicide is the month of January. Generally, people make it through the …

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Family works

Speaking on suicide

Posted

We often think of the holiday season as a time a depressed person might commit suicide. In reality, the highest incidence of suicide is the month of January. Generally, people make it through the Christmas season even if they are struggling with suicidal thoughts.

However, the thought of facing yet another year with all its problems and struggles can feel overwhelming. “Why bother? I wasn’t even happy during the happiest season of the year and the prospect of living yet another year seems incomprehensible.”

Can suicide be prevented? Research reveals that approximately one-half to three-fourths of suicides can be prevented. Some individuals, regardless of the intervention, will take their own lives, but many suicides can be averted. This is especially true among the adolescent population where suicide currently ranks as the second-leading cause of death, behind only accidents.

Among the adult population, it is interesting to note that females attempt suicide three times more often than males, but males complete suicide three times more often than females.

The reason for this is partially explained by the method used to take one’s life. Males are more likely to use a weapon such as a pistol or a shotgun, whereas females are more likely to attempt a drug overdose. It is believed women rarely resort to violent means since the desire to maintain a good body image persists even unto death. Even suicidal women find it easier to deal with dying than looking bad at their funeral.

It is believed that the decision as to whether or not one would ever seriously contemplate suicide is made by the age of 10. For some people, regardless of how difficult life might become, suicide simply would not be an option. Whereas, for others, provided life presented enough problems or disappointments, suicide would be a viable option.

The most common reasons that ultimately lead to suicide include: (1) to escape from an intolerable situation where one feels hopelessly depressed — “What’s the use?” (2) to punish the survivors — “I’ll die and then you will be sorry.” (3) to gain attention — “I’ll make you notice me.” (4) to manipulate others knowing that such an action will bring a response — “Now you have to give me attention.” (4) to join a deceased loved one since one may feel guilty for being alive — “Why couldn’t it have been me?” (5) to avoid punishment and/or feelings of shame — “I can’t bear to face this.” (6) to be punished, feeling that one deserves no better than self-destruction — “My life is pathetic.” (7) to avoid becoming a burden — “Everyone would be better off if I were dead.” (8) to avoid the effects of a dread disease – “Why should I suffer and cause you suffering?” (9) to seek martyrdom – “I am willing to die for this cause.” (10) to express love — “I loved you so much that I was willing to die for you.”

Because the overriding emotion when contemplating suicide is ambivalence, a person rarely takes his or her life without feelings of doubt. “Should I be doing this?” “Is this the right time?” “Maybe things will eventually get better.”

By being sensitive to the messages given by an individual contemplating suicide, it may be possible to prevent the attempt. The most common clues include: a history of problems, a recent traumatic event, rejection, failure to communicate problems, significant changes in behavior, living as if there is no tomorrow, self-isolation, and violent and/or risky behavior.

When someone you know exhibits these behaviors, there is reason for concern. If suicidal thoughts are verbalized, there is reason for alarm. If a suicide plan is articulated, there may be little time to act. Call our local crisis line: 476-2250, and seek help.

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