Give them a rea­son not to

The act of tak­ing one’s own life ... it’s unimag­in­able to most of us, but for some, it be­comes the only op­tion they can think of.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Health -

I AM a fan of Soundgar­den. Nat­u­rally, I was dev­as­tated to hear of Chris Cor­nell’s sui­cide. He’s not the only one. Tommy Page also com­mit­ted sui­cide. Why do peo­ple com­mit sui­cide? Is it de­pres­sion?

Among other rea­sons, yes. But psy­chi­atric de­pres­sion is only a small piece of the puz­zle.

A study pub­lished in Psy­chol­ogy To­day sug­gests that the rea­sons are deeper than once thought.

Re­searchers stud­ied the sui­cide notes of peo­ple who com­pleted sui­cide suc­cess­fully. The main dif­fer­ence is that the notes of sui­cide com­pleters in­cluded much more de­tail about how they were a bur­den on other peo­ple and so­ci­ety com­pared to peo­ple who only at­tempted sui­cide, but did not com­plete it.

In those notes, hope­less­ness, pain (emo­tional and phys­i­cal), and the be­lief that death will end this pain were the com­mon themes.

In sum­mary, peo­ple don’t com­mit sui­cide just only be­cause they are de­pressed or in pain. They com­mit sui­cide be­cause they don’t be­lieve that there is a rea­son to live any­more, and that their fam­ily, friends, and the world will be bet­ter off with­out them.

But I feel de­pressed some­times. There are cir­cum­stances in my life when I am ac­tu­ally very de­pressed. When I am de­pressed, I don’t feel like com­mit­ting sui­cide. What is the dif­fer­ence be­tween peo­ple who think like me and peo­ple who com­mit sui­cide?

When you were de­pressed, did you have hope that the fu­ture will be bet­ter and that your prob­lems would ul­ti­mately be re­solved?

Sui­ci­dal thoughts usu­ally come from a feel­ing that you can­not cope when faced with a sit­u­a­tion that over­whelms you.

When you feel as though there is no es­cape from that sit­u­a­tion, you may ex­pe­ri­ence some sort of nar­rowed vi­sion – and in that cri­sis, you think that sui­cide is the only way out.

There is also a pos­si­ble link to ge­net­ics. Peo­ple who com­mit sui­cide or have sui­ci­dal thoughts or be­hav­iour may more of­ten than not have a fam­ily mem­ber who com­mit­ted sui­cide.

Psy­chol­ogy To­day also sug­gests that peo­ple who com­mit sui­cide also ul­ti­mately pos­sess a men­tal strength that en­ables them to go through the in­tense emo­tional dis­tress and phys­i­cal pain to com­mit sui­cide. They must be highly tol­er­ant of pain.

In their lives, they may have played vi­o­lent and ex­treme sports, got tat­toos and body pierc­ings, played with guns, or got into a lot of fights. That is why they are fear­less of in­jur­ing them­selves.

When they were alive, they may have ac­tu­ally said things like: “I can stand pain more than other peo­ple” or “I am not afraid of things that other peo­ple are afraid of.”

Is it true that women are more likely to com­mit sui­cide?

Ac­tu­ally, women are more likely to at­tempt sui­cide, but not go through with it.

Men are the ones who are more likely to com­plete sui­cide be­cause they usu­ally use more ef­fec­tive and ir­re­versible meth­ods like a gun or hang­ing.

My mother has been de­pressed lately. Is she a sui­cide risk? Should I watch out for any­thing or be more aware?

There is def­i­nitely a risk. Sui­cide risks in­clude:

● Feel hope­less, worth­less, or ag­i­tated.

● Peo­ple who are so­cially iso­lated or lonely.

● Peo­ple who have ex­pe­ri­enced a stress­ful life event, such as a loved one’s death, post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der (com­mon among war vet­er­ans), a breakup, or fi­nan­cial prob­lems.

● Have a sub­stance abuse prob­lem like that of al­co­hol and drugs.

● Have sui­ci­dal thoughts.

● Have ac­cess to firearms in your home (more com­mon in the United States).

● Have an un­der­ly­ing psy­chi­atric dis­or­der, such as ma­jor de­pres­sion or bipo­lar dis­or­der (mania and de­pres­sion).

● Have a fam­ily his­tory of men­tal dis­or­ders, sub­stance abuse, sui­cide, or vi­o­lence, in­clud­ing phys­i­cal or sex­ual abuse.

● Have a med­i­cal con­di­tion that can lead to de­pres­sion and sui­ci­dal think­ing, such as cancer, chronic dis­ease, paral­y­sis, or chronic pain.

● Peo­ple who are les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual or trans­gen­der with an un­sup­port­ive fam­ily or who are per­se­cuted in a hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment.

● Peo­ple who have at­tempted sui­cide be­fore.

For chil­dren and teens, watch out if they are vic­tims of bul­ly­ing at school or are on drugs. They may not want to tell you about it.

Some young girls who have been raped or got preg­nant also take their own lives.

I can look out for these, yes. But are there any warn­ing signs such as what the per­son says or does?

Yes. Warn­ing signs in­clude:

● Talk­ing about sui­cide (“I’m go­ing to kill my­self”, “I wish I hadn’t been born”).

● Stock­pil­ing pills.

● Want­ing to be left alone.

● Hav­ing mood swings.

● Be­ing pre­oc­cu­pied with death, dy­ing or vi­o­lence.

● Feel­ing trapped or hope­less about a sit­u­a­tion.

● In­creas­ing use of al­co­hol or drugs.

● Chang­ing nor­mal rou­tine, in­clud­ing eat­ing or sleep­ing pat­terns.

● Per­form­ing risky or self-de­struc­tive things, such as driv­ing reck­lessly.

● Giv­ing away per­sonal be­long­ings or get­ting af­fairs in or­der when there’s no ex­pla­na­tion for do­ing so.

● Say­ing good­bye to peo­ple as if they won’t be seen again.

Dr YLM grad­u­ated as a med­i­cal doctor, and has been writ­ing for many years on var­i­ous sub­jects such as medicine, health, com­put­ers and en­ter­tain­ment. For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, e-mail starhealth@thes­ The in­for­ma­tion con­tained in this col­umn is for gen­eral ed­u­ca­tional pur­poses only. Nei­ther The Star nor the au­thor gives any war­ranty on ac­cu­racy, com­plete­ness, func­tion­al­ity, use­ful­ness or other as­sur­ances as to such in­for­ma­tion. The Star and the au­thor dis­claim all re­spon­si­bil­ity for any losses, dam­age to prop­erty or per­sonal in­jury suf­fered di­rectly or in­di­rectly from reliance on such in­for­ma­tion.

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