Suicide awareness and looking for the signs

(Photo: Jordan News)
September 5 to the 11 marks suicide awareness week and in the last decade, suicides rates have increased around the world. The WHO estimates that around 800,000 people die from suicide every year.اضافة اعلان

Suicide affects many people of all ages and ethnicities. It has become an issue particularly for adolescents and young adults (ages 15–24) as it is the second leading cause of death among that age group.

It affects people around the world, whether they are dealing with suicidal thoughts themselves or know of someone who is. In Jordan, there has been an increase in total number of suicides from 119 cases total in 2019 to 152 cases in 2020. This can be attributed to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as other socioeconomic factors.

Suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs. Suicide does not have one specific cause. There are many factors that can affect and precipitate suicidal thoughts and feelings. There are also some risk factors that can help identify someone who might need help, as well as protective factors to help with prevention.

Though women are more likely to have suicidal thoughts than men, suicide rates are statistically higher with men. If you are struggling, reach out for help. If you know someone who is struggling, or if you see any warning signs, do your research and find out how you can help. Always be patient and understanding and let someone you suspect of having these thoughts know you care and that they are not alone. Someone with suicidal thoughts or tendencies needs help from a professional so if you notice any warning signs, be sure they get the right kind of help.  

Warning signs

People thinking about suicide often show warning signs. For example, they may begin to talk about suicide more and allude to death. You may hear them start to say things like “I would rather just be dead” or “you might not see me again”. They may even begin to look for lethal means or objects that can be used in a suicide attempt.

Individuals may begin to see no hope for the future and no purpose of being alive. They often believe that things will never get better, and that death is the only way out. They may feel worthless, guilty, and ashamed and have a genuine belief that no one cares about them.

Some of the more serious warning signs include getting their affairs in order. Giving away their belongings as they feel they will no longer need them. Saying goodbye to their loved ones unexpectedly, as if they will never see them again and then withdrawing from everyone. They may also begin to take part in self-destructive behavior and take unnecessary risks. Lastly, you may notice them begin to feel a sense of calm. This can be dangerous if someone had been going through a period of severe depression as it may mean that they have accepted that they are going to die.

If you notice a friend or loved one going through any or all these signs, be sure to provide them with the help that they need immediately. They likely need help from a trained professional, but there are small things you can do for them. Being there and showing them that you care can help relieve them from the constant feeling of hopelessness and loneliness.

Levels of suicide risk

Low — Some suicidal thoughts. No set plan and the person usually says that they will not attempt suicide.

Moderate — Suicidal thoughts. Vague plan that may not be lethal and will usually say that they will not attempt suicide.

High — Suicidal thoughts with specific and lethal plan but still say that they will not attempt suicide.

Severe — Suicidal thoughts with a specific and lethal plan as well as verbal intent to attempt suicide.

Regardless of the level of suicide risk, a suicidal person should never be left alone. Start by removing any potentially lethal items from their reach. Show them that they are not alone and that suicide is not the only option.

Who is at risk?

- Those with mental illness, alcoholism, or drug abuse.
- Those on antidepressant medication — especially during the first two months of use
- Those with a history of previous suicide attempts, family history of suicide, history of trauma or abuse
- Those with a terminal illness or chronic pain
- Those who have been through a recent loss or stressful life events
- Those who are prone to social isolation or loneliness

Importance of Awareness

There is still a huge stigma associated with suicide and it can be very damaging. Talking about suicide in general is very difficult. To date, the most important step for suicide prevention is awareness. Suicide prevention methods still need to be improved and it starts with providing the public with correct information. Being able to recognize the warning signs may save someone’s life and the most important message is that suicides are preventable.

Debunking common myths associated with suicide will help end the stigma. One of the major myths about suicide is that talking about it will encourage it. The opposite is true. Talking about suicide allows the person to share their story. This conversation can help them feel less alone while leading to a discussion that will get them the proper help that they need.

Many people also believe that once someone has decided to commit suicide, there is nothing they can do to help. The fact is that if someone is considering suicide, it is because they see it as the only way out. When given proper help, people learn to manage those thoughts and emotions, and ultimately see that suicide is not the answer.

Resources in Jordan

Mental health advocate and medical student, Ibrahim Zuraik, is the founder of The Mental Health Club ( thementalhealthclubjo ). This page, which can be found on Facebook and Instagram, is dedicated to helping raise awareness on mental health disorders. With the help of Jordan’s top psychiatrists and psychologists, Zuraik says their purpose is to create a society where mental health is just as important as physical health and stigma surrounding it is reduced.

Zuraik started this page in 2019 to help others who struggle with their mental health. His page focuses on spreading accurate information through daily posts. They also provide free mental health services where you can call, and a trained volunteer will be there to help.

Their team now includes more medical students, medical doctors, and a psychological counselor. They have helped many people by referring them to clinics and following up with them to make sure they are well.

Zuraik also suggested Insight Initiative (on Instagram and Facebook) as well as Hareb Initiative (Facebook) for further support when it comes to suicidal thoughts. The Jordan River Foundation also offers a free-of-charge hotline service all around Jordan every day from 9am–7pm This helpline offers psychological support, consultations, and referrals. These services can provide immediate and free support in Jordan for families and children who need it. Reach out if you or someone you know needs help.

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