How to Prevent Suicide – Guide, Tips & Strategies

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suicide prevention

Suicide is an important but often neglected public health problem, surrounded by stigmas, myths and taboos. Each case of suicide is a tragedy that seriously affects not only individuals, but also families and communities. Every year, more than 700,000 people take their own lives after numerous suicide attempts, which corresponds to one death every 40 seconds. The most widespread representation of suicide is associated with the image of an individual act with a clear purpose. However, this event of human life is increasingly considered in all its complexity, having a collective scope, as a health and social problem.

The third regional report on suicide mortality, published in March 2021, indicated that this problem remains a public health priority in the Region of the Americas. Suicides are preventable with timely, evidence-based, and often low-cost interventions. In June 2021, WHO launched LIVE LIFE – VIVIR LA VIDA (in English and French), an implementation guide consisting of four key interventions, to prevent suicide worldwide. A multisectoral approach is essential to engage society and stakeholders in a collaborative effort.

KEY DATA
    • In the Region of the Americas, an average of 81,746 suicide deaths per year were reported between 2010 and 2014, with the suicide rate in North America and the non-Hispanic Caribbean higher than the regional rate.
    • Around 79% of suicides in the Region occur in men. The age-adjusted suicide rate among men is more than three times that of women.
    • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 20 and 24 in the Americas. People ages 45 to 59 have the highest suicide rate in the Region, followed by those ages 70 and older.
    • Suicide is the fifth leading cause of DALYs in the Americas, ranging almost nine times as a percentage of the total burden, from 0.4% in Antigua and Barbuda to 3.6% in Suriname.
    • In 2019, the highest age-adjusted DALY for both sexes is in Guyana, at over 3,200 years per 100,000 population, followed by 1,772 years in Suriname and 1,462 in Uruguay.
    • Asphyxiation, firearms, drug and alcohol intoxication, and poisoning with pesticides and chemical products are the four most commonly used methods of suicide, accounting for 91% of all suicides in the Region.

Addressing the complexity of suicidal behavior begins by identifying risk and protective factors. Key risk factors range from health systems and society to the community, relationship and individual levels. These include barriers to access to health care, disasters, wars and conflicts, previous suicide attempts, etc. These factors often act cumulatively to increase vulnerability to suicidal behavior. Although the link between suicide and mental disorders is well established, many suicides can also occur impulsively in times of crisis, such as economic loss. Some protective factors are strong personal relationships,

Mitigating risk factors to reduce the means of suicide and enhancing protective factors to foster resilience can effectively reduce suicide rates. For example, impulsive suicide can be prevented by restricting access to lethal means. However, suicide prevention has not been adequately addressed in many countries due to a lack of awareness of suicide as a major public health problem, which prevents people from seeking help. Underreporting and misclassification are more important problems in suicides than in other causes of death, due to their sensitivity and their illegality in some countries. The challenge is real and action must be taken.

It is important that you know

  • Strong Antibiotics or wrong medication can also trigger suicidal tendencies – Sometimes certain medicines can trigger mental issues. If you are taking strong antibiotics or have recently started taking a new medicine and notice major changes in your mood, you must immediately seek medical help.
  • The person who commits suicide does not want to die. The person who has suicidal ideas is going through a situation of ambivalence in her life, that is, she would like to die if his life continues in the same way, but would like to live if significant changes were produced in her.
  • It is believed that he who says or threatens to take his own life does not do so, however , the majority of people who commit suicide made their purpose of ending their life known.
    Every person before committing a suicide attempt shows a series of signs that, if detected in time, can help prevent it. Suicide doesn’t just happen on impulse.
  • Suicide or attempted suicide may or may not occur during a depressive process.
    Suicidal behaviors have been associated with depression, substance abuse, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses, as well as destructive and aggressive behaviors. However, this association should not be overestimated. There is no direct relationship between the suffering suffered by those who want to end their life and mental illnesses or illnesses.
  • Talking to a person about their intentions to kill themselves does not increase the possibility of committing suicide. Talking about it reduces the possibility of committing it and can be an opportunity to help someone who is suffering.
  • Suicide and attempted suicide should not be associated with actions of cowardice or courage, nor with romantic or heroic deeds . It is not minor to emphasize that the customary association that is made from the media of suicide with criminal acts when announcing them in the police sections, must be questioned.
  • It is often claimed that children do not commit suicide . However, once a child acquires the concept of death she may commit suicide.
  • Suicidality is not hereditary . What can be transmitted through education is the vision of suicide as a way of solving problems.

How to prevent it

  • Recognizing the warning signs
    • Isolation
    • Persistence of negative ideas
    • Difficulty eating, sleeping, and working
    • hopelessness
    • inconsolable crying
    • Sudden change in behavior
  • Showing interest and support
  • Respecting different expressions of feelings
  • Eliminating prejudices. Suicide is neither good nor bad, nor is it a criminal act, it is a situation of suffering

From home, from school, from every space, motivating people

  • to talk about how they feel
  • So that they have healthy friendships
  • To make decisions autonomously
  • To learn to handle stressful and difficult situations
  • So that they learn to persevere when the occasion calls for it and to give up when necessary
  • So that they have good self-esteem
  • To develop skills and emotional intelligence to solve problems

WHEN TO SEEK HELP?

It is common for you to feel doubts about whether it is really necessary to ask for help or what is the reaction that others could have when talking about what happens to you. But seeking help is always good and can be the first step to start feeling better.

Some of the situations for which you should ask for help:

• You feel more worried than usual and irritable
• You find it very difficult to enjoy your life, you feel very sad or withdrawn
• You have thoughts and feelings that overwhelm you and interfere with your daily activities
• It makes it difficult for you to carry out daily tasks, even those that seem very simple (for example, preparing food, personal hygiene and others)
• You have tried to harm yourself or are planning to do so.
• You are skipping meals, using laxatives, or vomiting to lose weight
• You are using drugs or alcohol frequently and excessively
• You have dramatic changes in your mood, behavior, or sleeping habits
• You have intense fears and fears that prevent you from doing your activities.
• You feel very pessimistic about your future and your plans.
• You are going through a complex situation in your life and it is difficult for you to cope with it. For ex. academic or financial problems, a serious illness, the death of a family member or friend,
relationship breakup.

12 things to prevent suicide that parents/guardians can do

As children become teenagers, it becomes more difficult for parents to know how they are feeling and what they are thinking. When do mood swings become a concern?

Parents and family members can help tweens and teens cope when life seems too much to bear. Learn about factors that can increase your child’s risk of suicide and explore the 12 suggestions below. These steps will help you feel better prepared to offer the loving, nonjudgmental support your child needs.

1. If you notice signs that your child’s mental health is deteriorating, connect

Maybe your child is just having a bad day, but when signs of mental health problems last for weeks, don’t assume it’s just a passing mood. Studies show that 9 out of 10 teens who took their own lives had mental health issues like anxiety. But please note:

  • Teens who have not been diagnosed with any mental health conditions may still be at risk. In part, this is because it can be difficult to identify mental health problems at an early age.
  • Many teens who attempt suicide have no underlying mental health issues, but in most cases, they will give signs that they are considering ending their own lives.

Your goal should be to remain calm, alert, and ready to talk with your teen. Don’t wait for them to come to you. You could start by saying, “You seem sad. I’m open to talking about this, because I love you and I care what happens to you.” Here are more tips for starting mental health conversations with your child .

2. Listen to your child, even when you’re not talking

Don’t be surprised if your teen turns away when you first bring up the topic of mental health or suicide. Keep in mind that even if your child is quiet at first, actions can speak louder than words.

Watch for major changes in your child’s sleep patterns, appetite, and social activities. Self-isolation, especially for children who generally enjoy hanging out with friends or playing sports, can indicate serious difficulties. If your child is having more difficulty than usual with schoolwork, chores, and other responsibilities, these are additional signs that you shouldn’t ignore.

3. Consider that your child may face risks of suicide that you have overlooked.

Many parents wonder: Can this really happen to my child? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Youth of all races, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, income levels, and community backgrounds die by suicide each year. In fact, suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 10 and 24.

Here are some things that might make young people think about ending their lives:

  • Loss of a loved one due to death, divorce, relocation, deportation, or incarceration
  • Bullying or harassment, in person or online
  • Discrimination, rejection or hostility due to gender identity or sexual orientation
  • Racism, discrimination and inequities and related stressors
  • Family history of suicide or mental health problems
  • Stigma (the belief that it is wrong or shameful to talk about mental health or suicide)
  • Easy access to firearms or other potentially deadly tools and substances
  • Witnessing or experiencing domestic violence or abuse
  • Financial instability that generates concern and insecurity
  • Suicide in your school or group of friends

Get more perspective on your child’s specific risks .

4. Never dismiss suicide threats as typical teenage melodrama.

Never assume your child is exaggerating or playing a game if they say or write:

  • “I want to die”.
  • “Ya no me importa”.
  • “Nada importa”.
  • “I wonder how many people would come to my funeral.”
  • “Sometimes I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up.”
  • “Everyone would be better off without me.”
  • “You won’t have to worry about me much longer.”

Many children who attempt suicide will tell their parents ahead of time (although some don’t). These words indicate an urgent need for help.

Don’t risk being wrong about this. Take all claims about suicide seriously.

5. Respond with empathy and understanding

When your child talks or writes about suicide, they may feel shocked, hurt, or angry. He may even want to deny what he is seeing or argue with his son. These feelings are natural and valid, but it is essential to focus on your child’s needs first. Your goal is to create a safe space where your teen can trust you to listen and express her concern, but without judgment or blame.

Instead of reacting like this:

  • “That’s a ridiculous thing to say.”
  • “You have a great life, why would you end it?”
  • “You don’t mean that.”
  • “I can’t believe what I’m hearing!”

Manage your own feelings so you can respond with empathy:

  • “It sounds like you are in tremendous pain and can’t see a way out.”
  • “Perhaps you are wondering how life became so complicated and difficult.”
  • “Right now, you’re not sure of the answers to the problems you’re facing.”
  • “You must be really, really hurt inside to consider ending your life . “

6. Seek professional help immediately

If your teen is self-harming or feels at risk of attempting suicide, take them to the emergency department of your local hospital . Quick action is crucial when things have come to a head.

If you see signs of suicidal thoughts but don’t feel an immediate crisis, you still need to take action . Contact your pediatrician or local mental health providers who treat children and adolescents. Explain what you are seeing and hearing and schedule a mental health evaluation.

Health care providers can help you and your teen create a safety plan that covers:

  • Warning signs or triggers your teen feels will lead to suicidal thoughts
  • Possible steps to help them cope when they feel lonely
  • Sources of support: family, friends, teachers, mentors, and others
  • Emergency contacts and steps to take if things get worse

Videos

NIMH Experts Discuss Suicide Prevention Strategies

7. Remove or secure weapons in the home. Do the same with other tools and lethal substances

Half of youth suicides occur with firearms, and firearm suicide attempts are almost always fatal . By far the safest option is to remove guns and ammunition from your home while your teen is having suicidal thoughts. Many families turn guns over to relatives or other trusted individuals to help protect their teen during a vulnerable time.

Secure home storage is the second best option . Locking and unloading all guns, with ammunition stored and locked in a separate space, reduces the risk of tragedy, but only if your teen doesn’t know the combination to the lock or where the key is hidden. Disassembling the guns and storing the components separately and under lock and key is another option.

Of course, guns aren’t the only means of suicide your child might seek . Prescription medications and over-the-counter medications can present dangers during a suicidal crisis. Families should lock up medications and, whenever possible, reduce the volume of medications available. Also consider buying over-the-counter medications in blister packs instead of bottles, to delay access to pills.

Other potentially lethal tools and substances you should consider locking up include:

  • Alcohol
  • Illicit drugs
  • Household cleaners and other poisonous products
  • Canned goods for sprinkling
  • Inhale
  • Antifreeze
  • Knives, razors or other weapons
  • Strings, belts or plastic bags

The job of removing or locking up these objects and substances may seem daunting, but your child’s safety is at stake . Suicide attempts are often impulsive and a moment of crisis can escalate very quickly. It is essential to make sure that your teenager cannot resort to lethal force at the wrong time.

8. As your child enters treatment, focus on building hope

Your child’s care team will likely recommend a combination of steps to reduce mental health symptoms and suicidal thoughts. Medications, talk therapy, and stress-reducing techniques such as yoga, meditation, or journaling may be part of the plan.

Provide realistic reassurance to your child along the way. Remind them (and yourself) that tough times don’t last forever. People feel better when they receive effective treatment and support.

If your child expresses feelings of stigma or shame, you can remind them that 1 in 5 people have mental health symptoms at some point in their life . Mental health is part of total health, and seeking help is a sign of self-esteem and maturity.

9. Encourage them to see family and friends

Your child may be reluctant to spend time with other people, but you can explain that social support will help him feel better. While more quiet time may be needed at first, it helps to gently encourage them to spend time with family, friends, and neighbors. Avoid power struggles around specific events or invitations, as your goal is to respect your child’s needs and minimize stress.

10. Suggest exercise

Physical activity relieves mental health symptoms and supports your child’s wellness plan. Whether it’s getting outside for a daily walk, working out at the gym, taking an online exercise class, or anything in between, exercise:

  • It lifts your teen’s mood by stimulating the production of endorphins (natural substances in the brain and body that help balance stress and control pain).
  • Supports higher levels of serotonin, another brain and body substance that leads to positive mood and restful sleep.

Experts recommend exercising 30 to 40 minutes 2 to 5 times a week. Any form of exercise is fine. What matters most is that your teen enjoys this activity and is motivated to do it regularly.

11. Encourage balance and moderation

Teens in crisis need to not be so hard on themselves. This means pacing yourself realistically and avoiding experiences that can be overwhelming.

Reassure your teen that self-care is never a sign of weakness . Everything we do in life is affected by our health, so giving ourselves time to heal is essential. Large tasks can be broken down into smaller, more manageable ones, and gradually, as your child’s confidence and strength grow, they’ll feel ready to take on more.

12. Remind each other that this will take time

You and your child will benefit from knowing that progress will come at your own pace. Setbacks can occur that are also part of the healing process. Encourage your child to be patient and forgive himself. You’ve been through a lot, but with the right care and support, you’ll both see improvement.

Remember

If you are concerned about your child, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (273-8255) . This free lifeline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from anywhere in the United States. Lifeline team members are there to listen and help you find the resources you need.

Music To Relieve Stress and Anxiety:-

Our body has magnetic properties and these magnetic properties alter through many external and internal factors. Listening to Good music uplifts your mood and if you notice there is any individual in your home showing symptoms of Suicide you must play good music, maintain cleanliness at home, burn soothing incense sticks to make your home or workplace more livable and full of energy.

Listen to Pure sounds of OM – The Sound of OM is considered as the Root sound of body. If you close your lips and mouth this is the only sound you can produce with closed mouth. It goes like AAA-UUUUUUUU-MMMMMM. When you combine all these sound patterns OM is formed. Listening to such music will not only uplift your mood but will also help to relieve stress.

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