If people want to die by suicide, why not let them?
Almost every person who feels suicidal is unsure about wanting to live or die. Often, with time and the concern and intervention of others, suicidal feelings pass. Suicide is a permanent solution to what is most likely a temporary problem.
Can I really help someone who has decided on suicide?
Because people who want to die by suicide almost always suffer from isolation and loneliness, you can help them simply by reaching out and letting them know you care. Listening to his or her troubles, asking about thoughts of suicide, and assisting her or him in getting the help that may be needed are all ways you can help someone you care about.
What happens to the people left behind?
Family and friends of people who die by suicide (called "survivors") are usually left with conflicting emotions, such as anger, guilt, relief, shame, and grief. Most survivors also struggle to know "why" their loved one took their own life – a question that has no real answer. Often, grief counseling and support groups are available to help survivors cope with these difficult feelings and questions.
You Should Know
Many lives are affected by suicide. The American Association of Suicidology estimates up to 6 people are personally touched by the suicide of one person.
Suicide is not about wanting to die, but about a powerful need for pain to end. All types of people die by suicide: men and women, rich and poor, old and young, straight and gay, rural and urban. What suicidal people share are feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and isolation, a desire for a solution to their problems, and deep uncertainties about living and dying. The more you know about suicide, the better you will be able to help someone struggling with these issues.
Helping the Suicidal
If you know someone who might be thinking about suicide, you can help them first just by listening. Very often, people who think suicide is a choice for them feel like they have no other options, like they have no control over their lives, and that no one cares about them. Listening to someone can, show that you care, give them a greater feeling of control and help them feel connected to someone else.
Do's and Don'ts
Asking about suicide can be scary and hard, but it is very important. It is the only way to find out how much danger someone is in. It also lets the person you're concerned about know that you're a safe person to talk to. Many people are afraid to talk about suicide. They fear that others will react with blame, fear, panic, or guilt. But it is often a great relief to someone thinking about suicide to know that you have noticed their pain. And although many people don't believe this, asking about suicide will NOT suggest the idea to someone or encourage someone to kill themselves.
Getting help for someone who is feeling suicidal can save their life. A suicidal person needs a lot of attention and support. The more helpers the better. Get help from:
Suicide and the Elderly
The Elderly: Life After 65
For most older people, their life is a time of fulfillment, satisfaction with life’s accomplishments. For some older adults, however, later life is a time of physical pain, psychological distress, and dissatisfaction with present, and perhaps, past aspects of life. They feel hopeless about making changes to improve their lives.
One of the most frequent companions of the elderly is an irreversible progression of losses. These losses often result in an inevitable sense of isolation, powerlessness, and hopelessness. One’s work is gone, friends have died or moved away, a spouse may have died, family has moved. Even the past may be a loss as memory fades. Painful illness has replaced physical well-being. Self-hatred has replaced self-esteem. Financial security becomes a thing of the past as income falls behind rising health and living costs. The loss of independence is often felt by those who reach 65 and over.
Clues to Look For
There are common clues to possible suicidal thoughts and actions in the elderly that must be taken seriously. Knowing and acting on these clues may provide you the opportunity to save a life.
It is important to remember that any of these signs alone is not indicative of a suicidal person. But several signs together may be very important. The signs are even more significant if there is a history of previous suicide attempts.
A suicidal person may show signs of depression, such as:
A suicidal person also may:
What can be done?
Friends and family of suicidal senior citizens often ask the Samaritans what they can do to help. The important thing is to pay attention. Encourage them to talk. Listen; be on their side; don’t be judgmental. Don’t interrupt with stories of your own. Reassure them without minimizing the feeling expressed. Thoughts of self-destruction can arise, but lives can be saved with understanding and support. Learning how to identify those at risk, becoming sensitive to the clues and symptoms expressed by suicidal older citizens and developing a means of assessing the risk and communicating concern and care for the individual can be valuable tools of intervention in a suicidal crisis.
The Samaritans are available from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM, 7 days a week, including Holidays. The service is free and completely confidential, Trained Samaritan speakers are also available to give talks or run workshops for interest groups. Call us at (508) 673-3777 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.