ALTERNATIVES TO SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR
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
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
Just when you're certain you're "on top of the world" things take a bad
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
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
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
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
6. Reassure him/her that many people think about suicide, but never actually
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
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.