Perspective

Self murder

Scene 1

Fiction; An unknown politician having invested his life savings (in addition to obtaining loans) in contesting for the Senatorial race came out the loser. He decided to end it all as there seems to be no way out…

Scene 2

A High School student was said to have committed suicide by jumping off a Bridge after being humiliated in front of her classmates for cheating on a test. She reportedly wrote a suicide note right on her exam script that read, “I just want to go away forever on the bottom of the river.” She subsequently asked to use the bathroom but never returned. She left school and walked to the edge of a river, jumped in and got drowned.

Scene 3

A septuagenarian (widow) jumped into the lagoon at the Lagos Island end some months ago on account of increasing difficulty to survive. She obtained a loan for her food vending business but got into more debt. Creditors were closing in but with no one to turn to, she took the plunge. According to WHO, close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds. Many more attempt suicide. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally.

What is suicide

Suicide is the act of intentionally causing self death. Some define it as ‘’self murder’’ • It is the result of actions taken to dealwith intolerable mental anguish and pain, fear or despair that overwhelms an individual’s value for living and hope in life. • While there is a well-established link between suicide and depression, each suicide occurs in a unique mix of complex interconnected factors, individual, environmental, biological, psychological, social, cultural, historical, political and spiritual, including psychological trauma (both developmental and intergenerational).

Myths

Myth: People who talk about suicide won’t really do it.

Fact: Almost everyone who attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Don’t ignore even indirect references to death or suicide. Statements like “You’ll be sorry when I’m gone,” “I can’t see any way out,”—no matter how casually or jokingly said—may indicate serious suicidal feelings.

Myth: Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy.

Fact: Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They must be upset, griefstricken, depressed or despairing, but extreme distress and emotional pain are not necessarily signs of mental illness.

Myth: If a person is determined to kill him/ herself, nothing is going to stop them.

Fact: Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people do not want death; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever.

Myth: People who die by suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help.

Fact: Studies of suicide victims have shown that more than half had sought medical help in the six months prior to their deaths.

Myth: Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.

Fact: You don’t give a suicidal person morbid ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true—bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.

Risk factors

• Previous suicide attempts

• History of substance abuse

• History of mental health conditions – depression, anxiety, bipolar etc

• Relationship problems – conflict with parents and/or romantic partners

• Legal or disciplinary problems •

Access to harmful means such as medication or weapons

• Recent death of a family member or a close friend

• Ongoing exposure to bullying behaviour (physical or cyber)

• Losing a friend or family member to suicide

• Physical illness or disability

Protective factors

• strong, positive relationships with parents and guardians – feeling secure and supported

• connections to other non-parental adults

• closeness to caring friends

• academic achievement

• school safety • feeling a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves – community, culture, religion, sports team

• neighbourhood safety

• awareness of and access to local health services overall resilience.

Warning signs

  1. Talking about suicide – Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm, such as “I wish I hadn’t been born,” “If I see you again…” and “I’d be better off dead.”

  2. Seeking out lethal means – Seeking access to guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.

  3. Preoccupation with death – Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.

  4. No hope for the future – Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped (“There’s no way out”). Belief that things will never get better or change.

  5. Self-loathing, self-hatred – Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and selfhatred. Feeling like a burden (“Everyone would be better off without me”).

  6. Getting affairs in order – Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.

  7. Saying goodbye – Unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again.

  8. Withdrawing from others – Withdrawing from friends and family. Increasing social isolation. Desire to be left alone.

  9. Self-destructive behavior – Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks as if they have a “death wish.”

  10. Sudden sense of calm – A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to attempt suicide.

When talking to a suicidal person

Do:

Be yourself, Listen, Be sympathetic, Offer hope and Take the person seriously. But don’t: Argue with the suicidal person, Act shocked, Promise confidentiality, Offer ways to fix their problems or Blame yourself.

Prevention

  1. Speak up if you’re worried 2. Respond quickly in a crisis 3. Offer help and support 4. Advise to see a psychologist/psychiatrist

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