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  • The Suicidal Mind

    Just a few months ago, I went from not knowing anyone who had committed suicide to a colleague and friend taking her own life. This tragedy continues to hurt me months later. Not only was this individual vibrant, charismatic, fun and loved by everyone she came in contact with, she was also considered a survivor. She had battled alcoholism for years and came out awinner. Underneath her great sense of humor and mask, she was secretly battling demons in her closet from years past, that no one really knew about, but her. Although my friend reached out to me seeking psychiatric help only weeks earlier, I never suspected that she was crying out for help on this level.

    As her friend I feel awful that I did not see the signs that she concealed so very cleverly. As a therapist I feel even worse that I was unable to help her. The suicidal mind is clearly cunning and elaborate, as the individual has to develop a plan of action that they will later attempt to execute. Research indicates that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States among all ages, and the second cause of death among 15-24 year olds. According to the CDC there is one death by suicide every 12.3 minutes. Suicide takes the lives of approximately 38,0000 Americans every year as per research. With the average of one successful suicide for every 25 suicidal attempts. Research also indicates that most suicide is linked to depression.

    My friend’s suicide will and has definitely changed my outlook on suicide as a whole, and has heightened my awareness of this ongoing tragedy. Research indicates that males are four times more likely to commit suicide than females. However, females attempt suicide at a rate that is three times more than males. Firearms are the most frequent method used among males, while poisoning the method of choice among females. Although, I didn’t see the warning signs that my colleague displayed, there are indeed many signs that someone is considering taking their own life. Some of these signs includes, but is not limited too, as per research are the individual talking about being a burden to others, the increase in use of alcohol or drugs, demonstration of extreme mood swings, talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain, visiting or calling others to say goodbye and suddenly appearing happier or calmer.

    When someone talks about suicide, as a practitioner it is always taken seriously. Suicide assessment is very common in my practice and always used in all initial evaluations. Some misconceptions regarding suicide can hinder the process of assessing individuals. Studies indicates that some common misconceptions of suicide include, that people who talk about suicide are not serious about it. Anyone who talks about suicide whether jokingly or not, should be taken seriously. This may just be their last cry for help. Another misconception is the thought that ” if someone wants to kill themselves, there is nothing that anyone can do to stop them”. Research indicates that most individuals waiver about whether or not they want to live, or want to end their pain. The overwhelming instincts of wanting to end it all, does not last always. Another major misconceptions regarding suicide is that “if you talk about it, it will reinforce the act”. This is clearly misleading as studies indicates that talking about suicide is one of the best things that one can do for another.

    What can you do…

    If you know someone who has expressed suicidal thoughts or tendencies it’s now your responsibility to take action. Never keep a suicidal thought or plan of action a secret. There are many programs that are geared towards suicide prevention. Please find a resource for that individual. Ask questions and call 911, if you suspect that this could be serious or the individual could be in immediate danger. The national suicide prevention hotline is available 24hrs, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). It’s always better to be safe then sorry. Since suicide is a final act, there should be nothing that you won’t do to help save a friend or loved one. If you are feeling suicidal call 911, the suicide prevention line, or go to the nearest emergency room. I have lost a friend to suicide and it has changed my life forever. I know that I will do whatever it takes to save the life of another friend or loved one. I hope you will too!