Understanding suicide

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Despite government funding for the National Office for Suicide Prevention rising from €4 million in 2013 to €8 million in 2014, suicide is still the leading cause of death among young people.

Ireland’s rate of suicide among young people ranks 4th highest in the EU. These rates are of growing concern, particularly within male populations, with 83 percent of deaths by suicide being men.

Common reasons for attempting suicide:

There is a large amount of reasons as to why someone would experience suicidal ideations. Some likely triggers are as follows:

  • Break-up / relationship issues
  • Sexual issues
  • Being bullied in the workplace or in school
  • Extreme work pressure
  • Financial difficulties / large debt

5 percent of people in any given population consider the possibility of not being alive, and it is important to determine whether this is merely a fleeting thought, or a more serious prospect.

Recognising the signs of suicidal thinking

  • Risk-taking behaviour
  • Giving away personal possessions
  • Social withdrawal
  • Sudden calmness
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Preoccupation with or talking about death
  • Loss of interest in things once found to be enjoyable
  • Saying goodbye

What to do

  • Ask direct questions – Try to tactfully gauge how well-formed these ideations are and how likely they are to be acted upon.
  • Remain calm – this is easier said than done, but keeping a level head is very helpful in this situation. Someone who is suicidal can often feel overwhelmed by others’ emotions when they are having difficulties with their own.
  • Provide a listening ear – quite often, this is the best thing you can do for someone who is feeling suicidal. Verbalisation of the problem can help alleviate it somewhat, and can allow you to help them put things in perspective.
  • Offer reassurance and remind them that they are not alone in how they feel – Feeling emotionally isolated and despondent are very common in a person who is suicidal. Detaching themselves from society because of feelings of alienation is a common response.
  • Persist – Initially, this will probably be a source of irritation for your suicidal friend, and they may even resent you for it, but in time, this will translate as genuine concern for their well-being, which can mean more than you can imagine.
  • Look after yourself – It can be very emotionally taxing trying to help a friend who is having suicidal thoughts, and it is important not to neglect your own mental well-being. Seek support when you need it.

It is important to remember that if a friend comes to you to tell you they are suicidal, that this is help-seeking behaviour and is a positive sign. Make sure to aid them in getting the support they need.

If you or someone you know is in danger of suicide, or is having suicidal thoughts, call Samaritans on 116 123.