ALTERNATIVES TO SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR 

                                                Exploring Options 

                 Think about a time in the past year when you have felt sad and hopeless.... 
                 Think about a time in the past year when you've been so excited that your joy
                 spilled out to others.... 
                 Have you ever noticed how "nothing lasts forever?" Just when you're certain
                 you'll never get over this - along comes something or someone you never
                 anticipated.... 
                 Just when you're certain you're "on top of the world" things take a bad turn....

                 FACTS ABOUT SUICIDE 

                 Four out of five people who commit suicide have talked about it or threatened it previously. It is not true that someone who talks about it won't do it. Often that is a clear call for help. 

                 1.   Drugs or alcohol are involved in two out of three suicides. Use of these chemicals intensify the already-existing feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that the person is experiencing. 

                 2.  Few people who end their lives are mentally ill. He/she may be simply seeing things through a very distorted and constricted lens - there seem to be only two choices for this individual: continuation of a powerful sense of pain, or a termination of that pain. 

                 3.   The act of suicide is not seen as a moving TOWARD something, but as a moving AWAY from unbearable pain. Most suicidal people are undecided about living or dying. Happily, most are suicidal for only a limited time and, if prevented from destroying themselves, go on to lead useful lives. 
 
 

                                  CLUES TO SUICIDAL BEHAVIOR 

                 Although some people hide or mask their true feelings, and never give clues most people do give clues to others through their behaviors. Some of the things we can be aware of are: 

                 - marked changes in personality, behavior, appearance, poor self-image 

                 - signs of depression such as insomnia, apathy, or noticeable weight loss/gain 

                 - participation in new and self-destructive behaviors 

                 - preparation for dying, such as giving away important and treasured objects. 

                 - talk of death/dying 

                 - apparent loneliness and isolation or withdrawing from others 
 

                 HOW TO HELP 
 

                 a)   Take threats seriously. The person is asking for your attention. 

                 b)   Look for clues including sudden improvement which may indicate a final decision. 

                 c)   Answer cries for help by listening with understanding. Try to listen for the "feeling" which the person is expressing. Let him/her know you hear... and care that they're hurting now.   Share with your friend an experience you have  had In which you felt sad and hurt, or scared. Help him/her to realize other options to relieve the bad feeling. 

                 d)   Confront the problem directly. Don't be afraid that you will "goof up."  You might ask, "Is it feeling so hopeless right now that life doesn't seem worth it anymore?"  You needn't offer advice - just listen and care.  Discussing it may help lead the person away from actually committing suicide.
                 Because one thinks it, one doesn't have to act on It. Talking it out often helps lift the clouds. 

                 e)   Encourage the person to seek help through parents, counselors, social workers, etc. You may know someone he/she is particularly fond of. Suggest that, and offer to make the call while your friend is with you. You may even offer to accompany him/her to see someone, If that seems helpful. If you get stuck, or scared, talk to someone yourself and find out what you might do next - don't be afraid to help your friend - don't keep their secret! 

                 8)   You are not responsible for your friend's life. The choice is his or hers.
                 But you may give hope and remind your friend that SUICIDE IS A
                 PERMANENT SOLUTION TO A TEMPORARY PROBLEM 
 

                 WHERE TO GET HELP: 

                 Feel free to contact any of the following: 

                 - School counselor, teacher, parent 
                 - Emergency mental health facility 
                 - Psychiatrist, psychologist 
                 - Family physician 
                 - Local hospital emergency 
                 - Clergyman 
 

                 IF YOU THINK SOMEONE MAY BE CONTEMPLATING SUICIDE 
 

                 When someone is severely depressed and possibly contemplating suicide there are generally warning signals which we can detect - clues in behavior such as giving away Possessions, talking about not being around any more, or acting very sad and depressed.  Dr. Cliff DuBois of the Georgia Department of Human Resources suggests the following steps if you suspect someone
                 may try suicide: 

                 1. Do not ignore Warning signs. 

                 2. Find a time privately to let the person know what clues you've observed and that you are concerned he/she might be thinking of giving up on life. 

                 3. Stay calm and simply listen.  If you are right, the person most likely will be relieved that someone noticed and cared. 

                 4. Remember - you cannot make someone choose to live.  You are not responsible for the person's life, but you can give support and possibly insight into other choices. 

                 5. Remind the person that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. 

                 6. Reassure him/her that many people think about suicide, but never actually do it. 

                 7. Be honest with the person if you plan to call a family member or friend. 
                 Make the call in front of him/her so that he/she won't wonder what you're saying. 

                 8. Ask the person to agree to postpone the decision for a while; in return, you might offer to accompany them to find support or help. 

                 9. Know the services available in your area, or contact someone who does. 
 

                        
 

 

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