Suicide knows no boundaries. There is no typical suicide victim. It happens to young and old, rich and poor. Many people, at some point in their lives, think or talk about suicide, but come to realize the crisis is temporary and death is permanent.
People in crisis sometimes perceive their dilemma as inescapable and feel their life is out of control.
Research suggests the majority of people who attempt suicide literally do something to let others know their intentions before they act. These warning signs consist of personal behaviors, verbal and non-verbal communications and include, but are not limited, to:
• changes in personality such as sad, withdrawn, irritable, anxious, tired, indecisive and apathetic.
• changes in behavior such as can’t concentrate on school, work or routine tasks.
• changes in sleep pattern such as bedridden, constant fatigue, insomnia and frequent nightmares.
• changes in eating habits such as loss of appetite and weight or overeating.
• loss of interest in friends, hobbies or other activities previously enjoyed.
• anxiety about money, personal health and other illnesses, either real or imagined.
• fear of losing control, going crazy or harming self or others.
• feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and low self-esteem.
• feelings of overwhelming guilt, shame, self-hatred and no hope for the future.
• drug- and alcohol-related problems or abuse.
• loss of religious or spiritual faith or in other personal beliefs or philosophies.
• the giving away of prized possessions.
• previous suicide attempts.
• talks about committing suicide.
• talks about putting together a will.
Most depression contains some element of grief and/or recent losses tied to death, divorce, separation, broken relationships, personal status, etc. Watch for statements like “nobody cares,” “everyone will be better off without me” and “I wish I were dead.” Mental and emotional illnesses such as bi-polar disorder are often tied to suicidal feelings.
Most people can be helped to get through their moment of crisis if they have someone who will spend time with them and take them seriously and help them talk about their thoughts and feelings. If you are someone or someone you know is going through tough times and are depressed or contemplating suicide, there are programs and places available to help. Please remember, you’ve got a friend.
For further assistance please contact your local law enforcement agency, the 24-hour Crisis Center at 244-7444 or the Hope Line at 800-SUICIDE.
Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.