World Suicide Prevention Day: Pay attention to the warning signs
Suicide is the 4th leading cause of death in teenagers; If you find a teen is distressed and might be feeling suicidal, seek professional help
When we hear about suicide, the first question that comes to mind, is why would someone do something so drastic? Suicide is the hardest step for someone to take. To them life is totally empty, and they feel they have nothing worth living for, and no one worth living for. Take a minute, imagine yourself standing alone in a really big space. It’s just you and no one else. There is nothing around you, there is no hope for a better life. You have only yourself to talk to, and your mind keeps saying very irrational, negative and hurtful things to you. How would that life be?
Individuals who commit suicide, are likely to have been feeling like this every single day for many weeks. We wonder, judge and usually come to the conclusion that the person who committed suicide, had a lot to love for, because we see their external life. No-one can know, how empty and abandoned one feels inside. However, mostly there are signs, which we miss or ignore, many times due to our own discomfort for handling someone else’s emotional “burden”.
Yes, it is hard, but by the virtue of being human, it falls under every human’s purview to support another being, if they are at such an abysmal emotional level. There are a number of telltale signs of suicide, such as (not limited to) depression, social withdrawal and isolation, saying goodbye’s and giving away belongings, hopelessness about life situations. A few subtle signs that we must be aware off are sudden mood changes, those who are sad, may behave in excessively happy ways and vice versa, talking about ways to die, emotionally distancing friends and family, excessive unexplained physical pain, and unexplained physical hurts. These are important warning signs for all of us to keep in mind and make sure we never miss them especially for our loved ones.
Research by the WHO suggests that suicide is the 17th leading cause of death in adults, however, in teenagers it is the 4th leading cause. Teenagers, are one of the most vulnerable population. They are at a stressful age where their emotions are naturally magnified, they are very sensitive to negative feedback, feel misunderstood often, there is confusion and doubt about self, about goals, and relationships.
Now add in external pressure to succeed, be popular, be unique and yet fit in, be accepted and more. For someone who was a child, just a few years ago, these life stresses can become over whelming and they not be able to understand that these problems may just be temporary. In such situations you may notice the teen may have sudden changes in eating and sleeping habits, loss of interest in activities, withdrawn and isolated behaviors, and high sensitivity to criticism with extreme defensiveness, irritability, and emotional outburst.Be careful, if your teen is wearing full sleeves or pants all the time, some teens who may indulge in self harm, like cutting or hurting, hide their scars. Some of them may also stop caring about their personal hygiene and become obsessed with dying or people who committed suicide.
A lot of parents and other adults, consider talks of suicide by teens as a “cry for attention”, and ignore it or call out the child harshly. But the truth of the matter is, that such talks are a “cry for Help”, it is a way they ask you to help them. It is their expression of going through unmanageable, incomprehensible stress. You can help them slowly come out of this difficult place by addressing their behavior in a calm and stable manner. Be open to listening to their issues, without judging or making them feel stupid. Don’t just push solutions on them, often, teenagers just want to be heard and given validation. They want to know that they matter, they want to be heard and know that their pain can be managed. If you feel that your teen might be exhibiting any of these signs, take professional help, start a simple exercise routine with your teen, spend more time talking to them. Be consistent and patient with them.
Teenagers test adults, to see, if the attention is a one-time thing, or does the adult “really care”. We can prevent and protect our loved ones from this terrible fate by expressing unconditional love, kindness and acceptance. This can get hard sometimes, but it is worth the life of you loved ones, it is worth the smile on their faces and the joy in their hearts.