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Suicidal tendencies: The war inside our heads

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“When people kill themselves, they think they’re ending the pain, but all they’re doing is passing it on to those they leave behind”-Jeannette Walls.Suicide does not just happen; it is an accumulation of voices and expressions wanting to be heard in a very busy world. Mental struggles are real and can be so debilitating if left unattended to.

I emphatically want to say that there is no man that is suicide-proof; sometimes it happens to people we least expected and that is why we need to be very sensitive to behavioural emergencies that always prelude suicidal attempts.There are some suicide myths that need to be phased out, as they have often contributed to the perpetuation of this societal ill. They are: “Suicide comes out of the blue with little or no warning,” “It can’t happen to me,” “Everyone who attempts suicide intends to die,” “I can never get to that breaking point where suicide seems inviting in my lifetime,” “Suicide is not preventable, as the victim will always find a way.”

Suicide does not end the chances of life getting worse; it only eliminates the possibility of it ever getting any better. Everybody has their hidden wars and struggles, no matter how pleasant-looking they seem to be. In fact, most times our friendly disposition to others may just be the cover-up that prevents people from seeing the underlying struggles and challenges.One of the hard nuts to crack is knowing what happens deep inside a suicidal mind.

In Nigeria, a video that began circulating online on Sunday evening (June 10) stated that a lady parked her Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) on the Third Mainland Bridge and jumped into the lagoon.Social media was rife with stories claiming the lady committed suicide after her extramarital affairs were exposed and that a DNA test conducted on her three children revealed they were not from her husband.

Though there have been various claims that the story is untrue, but the issue of people jumping into the Lagos Lagoon has been a recurrent over the years. Last year, at least two people jumped into the lagoon in suicide attempts.During the same period, however, the Police said it rescued a woman, who, after being defrauded ₦18.7 million, tried to commit suicide by jumping into the lagoon.

That it seems well does not mean all is well. Anthony Bourdain, one of the most celebrated chefs in the world, author, producer and host of CNN renowned programme, Paths Unknown, was discovered dead some days ago in his luxury hotel suites in France on a production visit. He hanged himself.Bourdain is believed to be a successful fellow, perhaps the most successful in his trade. He enjoys a life many envy, touring the world, eating the best of every cuisine across the globe at the age of 61. He was living a supposedly fulfilled life until the tragic loss. Nobody knew that Bourdain has his own hidden BURDEN.

Around the same time, another tragic loss took the world by surprise, as iconic fashion designer and businesswoman, Kate Spade, hanged herself in an apparent suicide at her Manhattan apartment, according to New York Police Department.Best known for her colourful handbags, Spade had over 140 retail shops and outlet stores across the United States (US) and over 175 stores internationally.

One wonders how such an incredible woman would ever thought of committing suicide.Suicide is preventable, and that starts with knowing what to look for and what to do. There are certain ‘behavioural emergencies’ or suicidal tendencies to watch out for and probably escalate.Warning signs that an individual is imminently planning to kill him/herself vary, but the following warning signs can mean someone may be thinking about or planning to commit suicide:

Depression
Depression is actually the highest cause of suicide. Depression has been called the world’s number one public health problem. In fact, it has often been said that depression is the mother of all oppression.Depression can be treated and recovery is possible. If you know someone who is depressed, help him/her to find suitable outlets and expression in the best way you can.

Focuses On Death
Some people talk openly about wanting to die or to commit suicide or they dwell on the topic of death and dying. They may research ways to kill themselves or buy a gun, knife or pills. When someone is always talking about death, then his/her condition must not be taken lightly.

Harming Oneself
Harming oneself is just some thoughts away from suicide. Self-mutilation and self-hate is an evidence to watch out for.

Victim’s Mentality
People with victim’s mentality are prone to suicide, as they always see themselves out-of-control in the struggles that they are passing through. They always believe their problems are not their fault and always see themselves as victims of life situations. They believe strongly that someone or something is responsible for their predicament.

Makes Suggestive Plans
The person may take steps to prepare for death, like updating a will, giving away stuffs and saying goodbye to others. Some may write a suicide note. Most times, it has been ascertained that victims normally post their suicidal thought on social media weeks or days before the actual event.

Becomes Withdrawn
The person avoids close friends and family, loses interest in activities and social events and becomes isolated.

Shows Despair
The person may talk openly about unbearable pain or feeling like they are a burden on others. Losing interest in things one used to care about or making comments about being hopeless, helpless or worthless is a sure sign that the victim may consider a dark alternative to ease out his/her predicament.

Shows Swings In Mood Or Sleep
Extreme mood swing and emotional instability could be a pointer to suicidal tendency. Often, the person may be depressed, anxious, sad or angry. Sudden and unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy is suggestive of a person that might not be able to handle their inner battles.

Substance Abuse (Drinks Or Takes Drugs)
Substance misuse raises the chance of suicide. Using a lot of drugs and alcohol may be an attempt to dull the pain or to harm oneself.

Acting Recklessly Or Taking Unguarded Risk
Tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death is a sign to watch out for. The person may take dangerous chances, such as driving drunk, driving fast or running red lights. Suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of extreme distress and an alert that someone needs help. Any warning sign or symptom of suicide should not be ignored. Threatening to die by suicide is not a normal response to stress and should not be taken lightly.

Take all suicide warning signs seriously and don’t dismiss the talk of suicide as just threats. Your involvement and support may help save a life.The main risk factors for suicide are: A prior suicide attempt, depression and other mental health disorders, substance abuse disorder, family history of a mental health or substance abuse disorder, family history of suicide, family violence (including physical or sexual abuse), having guns or other firearms in the home, being in prison or jail, being exposed to others’ suicidal behaviour (such as a family member, peer or media figure), medical illness and so on.

I have come to realise that no one really cares until something dramatic happens. Take a moment and think about anyone you know that may be prone to suicidal thoughts. The greatest lie to tell yourself is to think you don’t have such people around you. We are all connected to someone (a friend, family member, colleague in your work place, neighbour, classmate, family friend, business associate or even someone you constantly look up to), who is just moments away from committing suicide.

You don’t need to wait for them to share their struggles with you, because that might just be too late. Take steps to reach out to others; it is always worth it. Don’t postpone that call or message if you are led to intervene. What if today was their last day alive, would you do everything that you could to help?Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. If you ever come across someone with suicidal tendencies, encourage the person to talk to a mental health professional as soon as possible. The place of spiritual interventions should not also be trivialised. There are supportive sites and resources for people struggling with suicide thoughts, such as www.sptsusa.org, www.afsp.org; www.jasonfoundation.com; www.suicide.org; www.suicidology.org; www.samhsa.gov; www.yellowribbon.org and www.spanusa.org.


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