Why Do People Kill Themselves?
The common link among people who kill themselves is the belief that suicide is the only solution to a set of overwhelming feelings. The attraction of suicide is that it will finally end these unbearable feelings. The tragedy of suicide is that intense emotional distress often blinds people to alternative solutions…yet other solutions are almost always available.
Symptoms and Danger Signs
Warning Signs of Suicide
These signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. Risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss or change.
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
- Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdrawn or feeling isolated.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
Additional Warning Signs of Suicide
- Preoccupation with death.
- Suddenly happier, calmer.
- Loss of interest in things one cares about.
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
- Making arrangements; setting one’s affairs in order.
- Giving things away, such as prized possessions.
A suicidal person urgently needs to see a doctor or mental health professional.
Myths about Suicide
Myth: “You have to be crazy even to think about suicide.”
Fact: Most people have thought of suicide form time to time. Most suicides and suicide attempts are made by intelligent, temporarily confused individuals who are expecting too much of themselves, especially in the midst of a crisis.
Myth: “Once a person has made a serious suicide attempt, that person is unlikely to make another.”
Fact: The opposite is often true. Persons who have made prior suicide attempts may be at greater risk of actually committing suicide; for some, suicide attempts may seem easier a second or third time.
Myth: “If a person is seriously considering suicide, there is nothing you can do.”
Fact: Most suicide crises are time-limited and based on unclear thinking. Persons attempting suicide want to escape from their problems. Instead, they need to confront their problems directly in order to find other solutions–solutions which can be found with the help of concerned individuals who support them through the crisis period, until they are able to think more clearly.
Myth: “Talking about suicide may give a person the idea.”
Fact: The crisis and resulting emotional distress will already have triggered the thought in a vulnerable person. Your openness and concern in asking about suicide will allow the person experiencing pain to talk about the problem which may help reduce his or her anxiety. This may also allow the person with suicidal thoughts to feel less lonely or isolated, and perhaps a bit relieved.
How You Can Help
Most suicides can be prevented by sensitive responses to the person in crisis. If you think someone you know may be suicidal, you should:
- Remain calm. In most instances, there is no rush. Sit and listen–really listen to what the person is saying. Give understanding and active emotional support for his or her feelings.
- Deal directly with the topic of suicide. Most individuals have mixed feelings about death and dying and are open to help. Don’t be afraid to ask or talk directly about suicide.
- Get assistance. Although you want to help, do not take full responsibility by trying to be the sole counsel. Seek out resources which can lend qualified help, even if it means breaking a confidence. Let the troubled person know you are concerned–so concerned that you are willing to arrange help beyond that which you can offer.
Need Additional Help?
Counseling Center, located at Wilkinson Hall 4th floor office # 426, 891-4089
After Hours Crises:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Montgomery County Crisis Center(240) 777-4000
Maryland Youth Crisis Hotline(800) 422-0009
Emergency Rescue Services and/or Police Assistance Call 911
Also remember, if you live in a residence hall, you can seek help from your Resident Advisor or Resident Deans will know exactly where to obtain assistance.