No matter how bad your situation, no matter how overwhelming your mental/emotional pain, there is always a better option than considering suicide or self-harm – but it may not have occurred to you. Speak to a doctor (and other help can follow). Or phone a 24 hour Mental Health Crisis line.
When people kill themselves, it seriously affects their family and friends. Feeling “They’d be better off without me” doesn’t cancel out the fact that they would be greatly damaged – perhaps for life.
Suicidal thinking is often driven by depression. 90% of older people who attempt suicide have a mental illness – usually undiagnosed depression. Remember, depression is an illness, not a chosen state of mind. Risk of actual suicide increases without treatment.
FACTS ABOUT SUICIDE
Most people who die by suicide are affected by a mental disorder. Ninety per cent of older people who attempt or die by suicide have a mental disorder that is often undiagnosed and untreated. In most cases, these people have been experiencing depression.
Though depression is the most common mental disorder associated with suicide, some suicides are impulsive; many who attempt to end their lives are not so much motivated by a desire for death, but to escape the mental/emotional pain and anguish they are experiencing. This is important to understand, because when someone is on a path to suicide, it is often possible to intervene in a way that gives them the resources to cope with or overcome their pain and difficulties without resorting to self- harm.
The official number of recorded suicides in Australia has decreased in recent years following peaks in 1997 and 1998. Despite these decreases, suicide remains a major cause of death. For example, in each of the years from 1994 to 2004 the total number of deaths from suicide was greater than the number of deaths from road accidents.
Research shows that more women deliberately self-harm and attempt suicide than men, however men in Australia are almost four times more likely than women to die from a suicide attempt.
There were 1,881 deaths from suicide registered in 2007, representing 1.4% of all deaths that year. Men of all age groups in Australia are far more likely than women to die from suicide. In 2007, the rate of suicide deaths was 13.9 per 100,000 men compared to 4 per 100,000 women.
Suicide rates for men have been consistently higher than for women throughout the time Australian data has been collected.
In 2007: 77% of suicide deaths were men 21% of all male deaths under the age of 35 were by suicide.
Suicides in 2007 occurred at a rate of:
• 8.3 per 100,000 in the 15-24 age group
• 12.8 per 100,000 in the 25-34 age group
• 13.1 per 100,000 in the 35-44 age group
• 12.2 per 100,000 in the 45-54 age group
• 10.6 per 100,000 in the 55-64 age group
• 8.0 per 100,000 in the 65-74 age group
• 9.6 per 100,000 in the 75-84 age group
• 10.2 per 100,000 in the over 85 age group
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2009). Causes of Death, Australia, Suicides 2007. ABS Catalogue No. 3303.0.
Factors that contribute to suicide risk
• Marital breakdown/relationship problems
• Depression (or other mental disorders)
• Financial problems – including a sudden change in financial circumstances
• Previous suicide attempt
• High levels of stress, distress and depleted (‘run down’)
emotional and personal coping resources
• Ready access to a firearm, pills, or other means of
• Alcohol dependence and/or abuse
• Deliberate self-harm
Factors believed to diminish suicide risk
• Family connectedness
• Responsibility for children and others
• Close relationships/friendships
• A sense of meaning and purpose in life
• Personal resilience and problem-solving skills
• Being connected to a community and social activities
• Good mental health
• A preparedness to seek out early help for mental health difficulties
• A belief that suicide is wrong
• Lack of access to guns
Major issues for men
Some of the most telling issues linked with male suicide in Australia include:
• alcohol use, marijuana or other drug dependence
• a sense of failure in life, towards family, and financially
• family/relationship problems
• loneliness, isolation
• physical or mental illness
• unemployment and/or financial problems
• unaddressed depression.
Most telling issues relative to age:
• A sense of failure appears most significant to men under 45 years of age.
• Family/relationship problems and a sense of failure appear to be significant factors for men aged 45-49 years.
• Physical and/or mental illness and family problems appear to be significant factors for men aged 60-69 years.
• Loneliness or physical illness appear to be significant for men aged 70 years (Hassan, 1995).
• Think about the best way to approach the person – given what you know about his/her personality and temperament.
• Let the person know that you are seriously concerned. Suggest that he/she might see a doctor immediately or speak to a health professional recommended by a doctor − or ring a 24 hour Mental Health Crisis Line. Help the person to make the appointment or phone call. Offer to take or go with him/her to receive assistance.
• If you think the person won’t listen to you, then consider who he/she usually confides in, feels comfortable with and/ or trusts. Maybe this nominated person could make the approach and encourage the person who may be depressed to seek assistance.
The most important aim is to keep the person safe.
• Enlist the help of relatives or friends to keep a watchful eye on the person, to break his/her isolation, and to provide extra safety.
• Maybe you can help the person to work through a major problem rationally, resolve a relationship conflict, or get a new perspective on things
• Encourage the person to think about what is valuable, worthwhile and precious in his/her life. As well, encourage the person to recognise who depends on and values him/ her.
• Be as determined and resourceful as you can in finding a way to get the person to a doctor or appropriate health professional (or to seek help by phoning a Mental Health Crisis Line).
• Emphasise that mental/emotional pain, depression, low energy, and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness can be quickly turned around with appropriate treatment from a doctor. Left untreated, the person’s mental state may deteriorate. The risk of acting on suicidal thoughts and feelings increases without treatment.
• Be determined, but respectful.
• Listen to the person carefully.
• Think safety.
• Avoid being over dramatic; be calm and thoughtful.
• Remind yourself that you are not responsible for someone else’s suicidal behavior.
Resources taken from Beyond Blue
beyond blue is a national, independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related disorders in Australia.
Website: BEYOND BLUE
I have attached a video below that relates very well with this article.
It is an extremely touching and in depth story written by well known author "Paulo Coelho"
Available to purchase on DVD and paperback.