By: Poelano Malema
10 September marks World Suicide Prevention Day.
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 700,000 people die due to suicide every year.
The organisation also reports that for every suicide, there are many more people who attempt suicide.
With help, suicide does not have to be an option for anyone.
We spoke to Dr P Mothapo, a Clinical Psychologist at Life Carstenview, about how you can see if someone is suicidal and how to help them.
– What are the common causes of suicide?
Suicide is a very serious public health problem which could be caused by multiple factors.
Many people would experience suicidal thoughts when in distress (financial problems, the end of a relationship, loss of employment, death of a loved one) or experiencing physical health challenges (debilitating illness).
In most cases, individuals contemplating committing suicide are overwhelmed with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. They lose their self-worth. They have a perception that the world is better-off without them. Feelings of self-blame play a significant role as the individual turns to internalise anger and ends up believing that they deserve some punishment, hence attempting to commit suicide.
– What are common signs that indicate that someone is suicidal?
Suicidal individuals would present with different signs, but the common one would be withdrawal tendencies, diminished interest in activities they used to enjoy before, talking about death or suicide, giving away possessions, a change in sleeping pattern, posting suicidal massages on social media platforms…
– How can those who are suicidal get help?
It is of paramount importance to provide support to suicidal individuals. Reaching out and exploring their emotional state would assist in instilling hope, i.e asking about how they feel without judgement. Make sure that the individual is in a safe place; remove potentially harmful objects and medication.
As soon as possible, get professional help for the individual (psychologist and social workers), i.e accompany the person to healthcare institutions (local clinic, health centre or hospital) or call the Depression and Anxiety Helpline (0800 70 80 90).
– How do families of those who are suicidal offer support and help?
Families should never underestimate signs of suicide. Listening without being judgemental would help the individual contemplating suicide realise that they are not alone. It is vital to get professional help as soon as possible.
Image courtesy of Pexels/ @Farzad Sedaghat