|Someone Close to You
Your family member or close friend
has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder recently or perhaps a long time
ago. Possibly there has been no diagnosis yet but you have known
for a while that something is definitely wrong, and have been coping with
the mood swings as best you can.
Every year 30,000 Americans commit
suicide. Another 300,000 attempt to take their own lives. Many
of those who die by suicide have a mental disorder, most specifically depression
or bipolar disorder.
The symptoms of depression appear.
The affected individual shows signs of sadness, anxiety, irritability or
hopeless. He may hibernate in the house refusing social or occupational
contact. He sleeps more or less than usual and may often waken in
the early morning hours exhausted yet unable to return to sleep.
He may feel slowed down like he is walking and talking in slow motion…or
alternately he may be fidgety and unable to sit still (agitated).
Always tired, he may have feelings of guilt and worthlessness. Problems
with thinking, concentrating and decision making are ever present.
He has thoughts of suicide. As the depression deepens and hope for
ever recovering recedes the suicidal person sets his thoughts on ending
his own pain. Death may appear to be his only and ultimate choice.
Suicide is not inevitable however.
It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Rapid intervention and
appropriate treatment for those at high risk can be life saving. The more
that people learn about suicide and its warning signs, the greater hope
for more tomorrows for more people.
Suicide Warning Signals
1. increased sadness, moodiness,
2. worthlessness, discouragement
3. withdrawl from friends, families
and normal activities
4. specific suicide threats
5. letters, poems or essays revealing
suicidal thoughts and preoccupation with death
6. persistent boredom
7. decline in work/school performance
8. violent, hostile, rebellious behavior
in young people
9. ending close relationships
10. increased drug and alcohol use
11. failed love relationship
12. neglect of personal hygiene and
13. extreme difficulty in concentrating
14. radical personality change
15. complaints about physical symptoms
"headache, fatigue etc)
16. outright statements like "I give
up, it's no use, or nothing matters anymore"
17. putting affairs in order
18. giving away possessions
19. clear statement of desire not
20. sudden change to peacefulness
in the person may indicate his plans are made.
How can I Help?
Many people have thoughts of suicide
at some point in their life. These can range from fleeting thoughts
to threats and or a concrete plan for carrying it out. Any suicide
threat or attempt is a medical emergency. React by staying with the
individual at all times and phoning for help. Suicide hotlines are
listed in the front of the telephone book, the individual's own doctor
if available or dial 911 for immediate assistance. It is that important!
Two excellent suicide crises web
sites are available on the internet. One, Suicide.com tells you all
you need to know along with email addresses and telephone numbers to use
in a crisis situation. I recommend that you familiarize yourself
with the information presented here before you need to use it. http://suicidal.com/
Anyone thinking of suicide, or caring
for someone who is should read this page
There are ways you can help if the
situation has not reached a crisis point as well. Some of these follow.
You can see that your loved one is
obviously very depressed. The topic of suicide is not a taboo subject.
Ask directly whether your loved one has considered suicide as an option
and encourage him to talk about his thoughts and feelings. He may
be very grateful and relieved for the opportunity to talk. Ask concerned
questions, listen attentively and show that you take the person's feelings
seriously and truly care. Contrary to a long-term belief this will
not fix the idea of suicide more firmly in the person's mind.
Do Not try to analyze the person's
motives or try to challenge them. It is enough to know the thoughts
are there. Don't criticize him for feeling suicidal or offer trite
reassurances or reasons to go on living. He may very well withdraw
from you if you say things like "you will feel better in the morning",
or "look at all the things you have to live for…or even "your son needs
you". Suicidal individuals can be so consumed with emotional pain
that they are unable to even consider anything outside of it.
Do ask gentle questions if your loved
one admits to having suicidal thoughts. Try to find out if he has
a definite plan in mind and ask for specifics. The degree to which
the person has made actual plans is an indicator of how great the risk
is. If he plans to take drugs for example, ask what kind and whether
or not he has purchased them. Determine if the person has access
to a gun. Discuss it with him calmly. Don't be afraid to express
your own feelings. If you are frightened or sad, tell him.
Contact a mental health professional,
preferably the individuals own psychiatrist or doctor and suggest that
both of you come for a visit. Advice the professional of the situation
and ask for advice on how to proceed if the situation worsens.
Don't believe that people who talk
about suicide never do it. Many give definite indications of their
intent to die. Remove all firearms, drug stashes etc from your home.
Follow your instincts. If you
suspect that your loved one may act soon on an impulse, do not leave him
and get him to a hospital as quickly as possible.
Death is an unknown…to the suicidal
person a path to peace. This is what one woman had to say about here
severe suicide attempt from which she eventually recovered….
"I expected a lot more from death.
I thought it would be a triumphant feeling of peace and tranquility.
I thought it would be peaceful cessation. All I got was oblivion
and when I got there, I wanted to come back. There are no answers
in oblivion. It was worse than being alive. At least if you're
alive you may find a potential answer".
We remember those who were unable
to fight the demons and died by their own hand at our Suicide Wall
Please visit us there to read the
memorials, or place a memorial for your loved one.