Do you know someone who seems depressed and shows signs of losing hope in this life? If so, please ask this question: “DO YOU WANT TO HURT YOURSELF? “ By doing so, you could potentially SAVE a life. Depression can lead to thoughts of suicide and sometimes, those thoughts lead to action.
There is an alarming spike in the number of suicides in the US in recent years. That is a serious issue. Suicide was the 10th leading cause of all deaths in the U.S. in 2017 (per the CDC). In 2016, suicide was responsible for 45000 deaths in the United States. That represents one suicide every 12 minutes in this country. Even more alarming is that the suicide rate is increasing at every stage of life. Yes, it is now the SECOND leading cause of death for people AGES 10-34! It’s the fourth leading cause among people 35-54 years of age and the eighth leading cause for people ages 55-64 years.
One fact that can cause even greater concern now is the hopelessness demonstrated by celebrities who have taken their own lives in just the first half of this year, 2018! It is not unusual for “ordinary” people to try to emulate celebrities in one way or another. Someone who is already depressed might think: “If (FAMOUS) So-and-So doesn’t think life is worth living, then why should I even try to keep going???”
As a Clinical Psychologist, I sometimes ask a patient if he/she she wants to harm herself or himself. I ask when I note specific comments or behaviors. The question may seem intrusive, but sometimes a person needs to consider the weight of the burden that he or she is carrying. The question can open a dialogue and lead to some self-probing and to the realization that “I need help.” Even someone who has NOT considered suicide may suddenly realize that his/her current thought pattern could well lead in that direction. If you are concerned about a family member, friend or acquaintance, DO ask the question. No one wants to feel guilty about not having tried to help someone who later committed suicide.
“Lisa” was a 32 year old patient of mine. Within a very short time, she lost her job, her boyfriend, her beloved cat, then to top it off, a close friend committed suicide. To say the least, she was depressed and struggled to cope with such a tremendous burden. She cried uncontrollably, felt let down and abandoned by some friends and guilty that she missed the signs and had failed to prevent that suicide. In therapy, she often said: “I should have known.” “Lisa” was in no way responsible for her friend’s death, since she did not know how to recognize the signs. But for the future, she will be prepared.
HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO HELP YOU RECOGNIZE THE POTENTIAL FOR SUICIDE:
Recently developed signs of excessive sadness or moodiness (could last for days, weeks, months) A sudden calmness or euphoria (like all is well!) could indicate that a suicide plan is in place Practicing Isolation, an avoidance of friendships, loss of interest in normal activities Engaging in harmful/dangerous behavior: reckless driving, unsafe sex, Excessive drugs or alcohol Preparing a will, giving things away, New habits that show the person no longer values life or health Making suicide threats in passing…then denying he/she means it
IN SUMMARY, it’s true not all who consider suicide will follow through, but if you have suspicions of deep depression, loss of hope or notice any of the signs listed above, do ask the simple question: DO YOU WANT TO HURT YOURSELF? You could make all the difference for that person’s FUTURE!
Dr Q is a clinical psychologist and hypnotherapist helping adults, geriatrics and children with emotional and mental issues. These include depression, anxiety, trauma, addictions, behavior issues, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders working individually, couples or a group setting. For more information,
call Dr Q directly@ 727-906-6185 or visit http://www.healthylifestylestampabay.com/