September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Here are some ways to recognize despair in your loved ones.
Posted in , Nov 20, 2014
As a mental health clinician, I have been blessed to provide counseling and support services for those suffering from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Although the nature of what I treat may vary, many of my clients often present with the same symptom: hopelessness.
Hopelessness is a cloud of despair consistently hovering over a person’s life that feels inescapable and can cause someone to consider suicide as the only way out. Suicide is never the answer and there are many ways that mental health clinicians can help sufferers to feel better. But while someone is feeling hopeless, a better future can be impossible to imagine. A client once told me that “trying to simply tell me how to get out of this darkness is like trying to explain color to a person suffering from blindness; it just doesn’t make sense to me.”
Saying things like “it’s going to get better,” or “cheer up,” therefore, might not only be ineffective but actually harmful to your loved ones while they are in this state of hopelessness. Instead, the best way to be in a position to help is to educate yourself on symptoms of depression and hopelessness.
Suicide is never anyone's fault and most completed suicide attempts offer very little advanced notice. Still, here are 5 warning signs of suicide to look for in loved ones if you are concerned they may have thoughts of self-harm:
1. Has your loved one shown signs of depression? This may present as loss of appetite, loss of energy, poor concentration, recurrent thoughts of death, and also changes in sleep patterns.
2. Has your loved one shown a sudden disinterest in activities?
3. Has your loved one expressed feeling as though they have no way out? You might find your loved one is not open to discussing alternative options for their worries.
4. Has your loved one shown a change in his/her personality? This could resemble someone who is very moody one moment and then very happy the next. They could also begin engaging in reckless behavior suddenly.
5. Has your loved one shown signs of excessive guilt or shame? They may play an event over and over again in their mind, but blame themselves more each time.
After educating yourself, get connected with a professional counselor and most of all stay connected with your loved ones. Make an effort to either see them or speak with them daily and let them know how much they are loved. Continuously let them know that you are there to listen and help them however they need. If you feel immediate action needs to take place, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).