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Suicide: Warning Signs & Prevention Tips

2020 is going to be a year that we all will not forget in a hurry. December 2019, / January 2020 began in Australia with the catastrophic bushfires that raged over a large part of the country killing people, decimating our wildlife and livestock. Homes, towns and businesses were burnt to the ground.

While in China, the beginnings of covid-19 were starting to seep out into the wider world population................... A Pandemic, I am not sure about you, but I certainly never would would have believes that such a thing was even possible in our lifetime.

  • * Currently as I sit here and write this blog, I and my family are "social distancing."

  • I only leave my home to go essential shopping.

  • As a carer for an older parent, I am still able to help with her daily needs.

  • I haven't put petrol in my car for a few weeks now. I do not travel far enough.

  • My son and his partner have had to return from their long planned 2 year holiday in the UK / Europe. (They are OK phew............. and have made it home 1 year earlier than expected - finding them a flight was a challenge...........) They have needing to quarantine (in full isolation and see no other person) in Melbourne for 2 weeks and then again in Adelaide for another 2 weeks. PREVIOUSLY they had also been in quarantine in the UK.

  • One of my other son's is no longer able to work due the the shutdown of his company.

  • My youngest is now attending Uni full time online.

  • My business has gone through a major transformation and I am now consulting via online platform. (Zoom) - I am unable to consult with clients in person due to the chance of cross infection on covid 19.

  • There are a number of significantly important family events that have been cancelled as the extended family can no longer meet in person.

  • These are a few of the dramatic changes the the circumstances surrounding my family that have recently taken place in our lives. (We are all well and healthy as I write.)

  • I know that I am not alone. All of us, each individual and each family unit all over the world has had a massive upheaval and transformation of their lives.

  • All of our lives world wide have suddenly become very different to the lives we were living in 2019.

To that end........... I feel that is SIGNIFICANTLY IMPORTANT that we all take the time to look out for each other during this period of upheaval. We all need to be diligent in regards to our own physical, emotional and mental health and wellbeing, plus that of our nearest and dearest.

The following is a portion of an article from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors which will highlight some of the behaviours that we need to be able to recognise and then respond to accordingly.

Because most people who die by suicide give warning signals of their intentions, the best way to help prevent suicide is to learn how to recognise – and then respond to – those signs. It may be helpful to think of a continuum, at one end of which is a healthy desire to live life to the fullest, and at the other end of which is a completed suicide. Somewhere on that continuum – possibly in the half closer to the healthy desire to live – we peg the first marker of three on the road to suicide. It is about the risk factors or conditions which are correlated with suicide.

Risk factors (conditions associated with increased risk of suicide)

All of the more difficult life challenges can be included in this category:

  • Terminal illness or chronic pain

  • Death of a relative or friend

  • Divorce or separation

  • A broken relationship

  • Social isolation or loneliness

  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies

  • Stressful life events or stress on the family

  • Loss of health, whether real or imagined

  • Loss of job, home, money, personal security, status, or self-esteem

  • Alcohol or drug abuse

  • Anxiety, depression or other mental illness (note: depression can appear as “normal effects of ageing” in the elderly. It isn’t! Similarly, teens may mask their depression by acting out. Someone in the early stages of recovery from a depressive episode is at particularly high risk, as is someone during the first two months on antidepressants)

  • Previous suicide attempts

  • Family history of suicide

  • History of trauma or abuse (Florida Office of Drug Control, 2009)

Risk factors associated with adolescent suicide

  • Risk factors associated with adolescent suicide in addition the the general risk factors above, both teenagers and older adults are at higher risk. Teens are going through emotionally turbulent years, trying to fit in and succeed. They struggle with issues of sel-esteem, self-doubt, and feelings of alienation. Of the above conditions, depression, childhood abuse, impulsive and aggressive tendencies, and the experience of a recent traumatic event are particularly serious risk factors. Other risk factors particularly potent for this age group include: Lack of a support network

  • Availability of a gun

  • Hostile social or school environment

  • Exposure to other teen suicides

  • Identification as gay, lesbian, or transgender (and the ensuing isolation) (Florida Office of Drug Control, 2009).

Risk factors associated with suicide in older adults

Owing in large part to the frequently undiagnosed and untreated incidence of depression, people over 65 years of age have the highest suicide rates for any age group. In addition to depression, the general risk factors prominent for this age group are: recent death of a loved one; disability, illness, or chronic pain; and isolation and loneliness. Not on the above list of general factors, but also risk factors for the elderly are:

  • Major life changes, such as retirement

  • Loss of meaning and sense of purpose

  • Loss of independence (Ainsworth, 2011; Smith et al, 2012)

Emotional and behavioural changes which may be associated with suicide

Obviously, not everyone who suffers from one of the above conditions will become suicidal, but there is elevated risk. People who experience some of the above conditions will go on to experience changes in personality and behaviour; these changes comprise the second peg marking the journey towards suicide:

  • Overwhelming, ongoing pain. Pain may sometimes have been at the same level for a long time, and even if the person managed to cope before, suicidal feelings may be exacerbated by having the sense that their pain-coping resources have come to be depleted. Also, precipitating events can worsen pain, causing suicidal feelings.

  • Hopelessness-helplessness. More than most of the other negative intense emotions, the sense that the pain (whether physical or emotional) will continue or get worse is a strong predictor for suicidal behaviours. When feeling hopeless or helpless, the person convinces him or herself that there is no hope for the future, and no one can help: “There’s no way out.”

  • Changes in personality. The person becomes sad, anxious, irritable, tired, withdrawn, or easily angered.

  • Feelings of guilt, shame, self-loathing; the sense that no one cares, or that one is worthless; fears of losing control and/or harming others. People with these emotions may feel like a burden, and proclaim, “Everyone would be better off without me.”

  • Decreasing interest in previously enjoyed activities, including meeting with friends and having sex.

  • Social withdrawal or falling in with a group with very different standards to those of one’s family.

  • Declining performance in school or work.

  • Feeling rage or uncontrollable anger, or seeking revenge.

  • Violent, rebellious behaviour or running away (in teens).

  • Powerlessness: the feeling that one’s resources for reducing pain or sorting out problems are exhausted.

  • Deepening neglect of physical appearance and/or physical deterioration.

  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits (in either direction: suddenly sleeping or eating too much, or sleeping or eating poorly). Elderly people may deliberately forgo food or medications, or disobey doctor’s instructions (Ainsworth, 2011; Smith et al, 2012; Florida Office of Drug Control, 2009).

The team at De-Stress and be HAPPY is able to support you through the turbulent times ahead. We are here to help you cope, find your way and transition into our brave new world.

Services that may be beneficial for you that we can provide at De-Stress and be HAPPY are Hypnotherapy, Counselling, Kinesiology, Reiki and CranioSacral Therapy

De-Stress and be HAPPY Complete Wellbeing Brighton 29 Jetty Road Brighton South Australia 5048

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