Suicide is a death caused by self-inflicted injury. In these situations, the person inflicts this harm intending to die. It’s a preventable outcome of some mental illnesses. Learning the risk factors and warning signs can help you protect yourself and others from this heartbreak.
There is no single cause of suicide. The mental health field is still doing a lot of research on this. It is not a mental illness, but it is a potential consequence of treatable mental illnesses. These illnesses include major depression, and bipolar disorder.
Risk Factors for Suicide
Depression is the most common condition associated with suicide. When we treat these mental illnesses through psychotherapy and medication, we can significantly lower the chances of attempted suicide.
Health Risk Factors of Suicide
Certain personality traits can lead to suicidal thoughts or ideation. Traumatic brain injuries can induce these behaviors. Health conditions with chronic and difficult to manage pain can also drive people to consider suicide. Other risks include moodiness, being prone to aggressive outbursts, and conduct disorder.
Environmental Risk Factors
One of the most common environmental risks of suicide is access to firearms or lethal drugs. Someone is also at a higher risk of suicide if they have to endure constant bullying, harassment, or physical abuse. Exposure to graphic or sensationalized suicide or exposure to someone else’s suicide significantly increases risk, too. Relationship issues like divorce also place someone at risk. Other environmental risk factors include recent rejection, unemployment, or financial hardship.
Historical Risk Factors
Survivors of previous suicide attempts and sexual assault may turn to suicide attempting to escape their trauma. The same is true for anyone who experienced childhood abuse or neglect. There is also a risk factor associated with a family history of either suicide or depression.
Warning Signs of Suicide
The key step to preventing it is recognizing the warning signs. When you know that someone is already at risk of suicidal thoughts or ideation, it becomes important to be on the lookout for some of these tells. Any change in behavior or an entirely new behavior might be the first signal. Other warnings are:
- Feeling hopeless about the future and having little faith that things will improve
- Difficulty sleeping
- Isolation or uncharacteristic social avoidance
- Signs of self-harm, like cuts or burns
- Threatening or talking about harming or killing themselves
What Can You Do?
Approaching someone about potentially suicidal behavior can be intimidating. It feels intimate. There might be a fear of worsening the situation or inability to support someone through difficult and complicated emotions. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- It’s okay to ask them about how they’re feeling. Sometimes having someone to talk to and someone to listen (without judgment) is what it takes to feel less alone.
- Let them know that how they feel is okay. Being depressed and feeling hopeless does not make them a bad person. It just means they need some help.
- Encourage them to see a therapist. Talk to them about the availability of mental healthcare. It’s ever-increasing, and they can speak with their general practitioner if they need help to find a provider.
How Therapy Can Help Prevent Suicide
Psychotherapy is one of the most effective ways to prevent suicide. The help of a professional therapist means having access to a support system to help you cope. They know how to find the coping mechanisms that will work for you. Therapists can also provide you with or help you find group therapy sessions.
These group therapy sessions are effective because they reinforce that your experience is valid, and you are not alone. The combination of medication and psychotherapy is one of the most effective ways to combat suicide. Please contact us soon for support.