Recently, I've been thinking a lot about suicide (not for myself, just in general) and what an awful waste it is. I've come to realize that as a community, ADISC is probably at a higher risk for suicide than other people. We face various and difficult types of stressors, ranging from internal acceptance issues, to getting caught, to having to come out to parents about whatever it is that makes us "us". To that end, I'd like to take some time and explain what to do if you, or someone you love or care about is contemplating suicide.
How to identify someone is contemplating suicide:
The American Association of Suicideology teaches an acronym to help remember the signs of a suicidal person. It's kind of silly, but it's an excellent mnemonic.
IS PATH WARM
Ideation: A suicidal person may speak of suicide as "a way out" or that it is somehow better than living. This is probably the most extreme example of a sign, and all ideations should be taken with the utmost seriousness.
Substance Use: The person may start using alcohol or drugs more heavily than normal. As with any sudden change in behavior, there is a reason behind it, and friends should always inquire after a person who shows such a change.
Purposelessness: Many suicide survivors cite this as a reason for their attempt. A suicidal person may feel that he or she no longer has a reason to live, and this makes suicide an acceptable option to them.
Anxiety: Sudden or even prolonged anxiety is also a sign of emotional stress, and can lead to thoughts of suicide.
Trapped: A person who feels trapped, whether by circumstances or events may feel that the only way out is through death.
Hopelessness: We all know how important hope is. Without that sense that life does get better people can feel that there is no reason to continue.
Withdrawal: A person that withdraws from their friends, family, work, or any other social community may be preparing themselves, or others around them for their not being there. They may not want people to see their pain because they are embarrassed, or feel that they will be "burdening" others with their pain.
Anger: Suicidal people can feel great rage, and can lash out, even violently, to correct perceived wrongs.
Recklessness: People that are contemplating, or have made the decision to die often display a for their own life. This can manifest itself in behaviors such as reckless driving, "stunts" or any other activity that puts oneself at undue risk.
Mood Changes: A person undergoing great stress and contemplating suicide may exhibit sudden mood changes. This can run the entire gamut of emotions, and a sudden sense of calm often indicate that suicide is imminent and should be dealt with in an expeditious manner.
Other warning signs include giving away prized possessions, and seeking access to weapons.
What to Do?
ACT is an acronym for "Ask, Care, Treat".
If you suspect someone is considering suicide or is suicidal, ask them "Are you planning to hurt yourself?" Oftentimes, this simple act can put someone on the road to recovery, but it doesn't stop there. Let the individual know that you care, and that you don't approve of suicide. Listen to their problems, try and help them to talk it out. Don't be judgmental, or attempt to "fix" their problems. Do not leave the person alone. Finally, you should treat the problem. This doesn't mean you should engage in amateur psychiatry. Get the person to a trained counselor, heath care professional, school counselor, teacher, clergyman, fireman, paramedic, or a policeman. These people are all trained in what to do and how to get the specific help that a person needs. If none of these people can easily be gotten to, many countries have a suicide prevention hot line, the numbers to which I'll list at the bottom of the page.
In conclusion, I'd just like to say that suicide is never the answer. Please, Please, Please, if you or someone you know is considering suicide, ACT.
Suicide Prevention Phone Numbers:
United States/Canada: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
United Kingdom: 0800 068 41 41
The Netherlands: 0900 113 0113
Australia: 1800 55 1800
Unfortunately, my grasp of languages other than English is limited, so if anyone can help me populate this list further, I'd appreciate it.
"Suicide isn't painless, when you leave everyone in pain" -NoFX