September 10th is world suicide prevention day

By Caribbean Medical News Staff

Every year, almost 40 000 Americans take their own lives and suicide is apparent in some cultures across the region in circumstances where individuals feel there is no hope.  In the US alone, almost 500 000 receive medical assistance for self-inflicted injuries. Suicide may be prevented in some cases and this has much to do with getting the right help and being self-aware of the levels of stress and/or loss that a person is suffering.

Many people are uncomfortable with the topic of suicide and families of victims who have either attempted suicide or were successful, are often left alone to blame themselves or end up stigmatized by society. Suicide is a serious mental health problem that is often veiled with secrecy and shame. This need not be so. It is time for a conversation on depression and suicidal thoughts, a conversation without shame and judgment.

As the world commemorates World Suicide Day on September 10th, it helps to know what to be aware of in yourself or others with a view to preventing a very preventable occurrence.

Death is final but surviving suicide can also leave people permanently damaged physically and mentally and leave families of the victim bewildered and relationships fractured. Psychologists and psychiatrists suggest that at the first signs of continued chronic depression, people should seek help. Most suicides in the US involved the use of firearms, suffocation and poisoning. In the Caribbean, poisoning using pesticides is the “usual” unfortunate method used. Those who take poison rarely survive.

Psychologists say it is important to recognize the signs which include – a family history of suicide, a history of chronic depression, prolonged alcohol and drug abuse, exposure to the suicidal behavior of others, high stress life events and loss, access to lethal tools used in suicide and a history of attempted suicide.

Reports suggest that taking preventative measures may be of some help to those who are or have contemplated suicide and these include cognitive therapy, conflict resolution, support from the community or clergy, a continued mental health programme which meets the needs of the patient who is struggling with suicidal ideation, feeling a sense of belonging with family or friends and developing new friendships and adopting spiritual or cultural value systems which denounce suicide.

Indeed hobbies like art or any satisfying, healthy hobbies, exercise, a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle are also encouraged.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the suicide prevention hotline in your country or go online to a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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