Mental illness and suicide have been known to go hand in hand depending on the diagnoses.
Often individuals diagnosed with a mental illness have symptoms that encompass suicide, such as Major Depressive Disorder.
There are many community resources, warning signs and support that are available for individuals that are suicidal, have been impacted by suicide or work with individuals often that are suicidal.
There is 54% of individuals who complete suicide who do not have a diagnoses, which is understood.
Just to be clear from the beginning I use suicide and completed suicide all interchangeably. I will state that it is an attempt or failed suicide if the individual lived.
In the United States over 45,000 people complete suicides each day with most being completed by firearm.
Among those individuals, men are four times as likely to commit suicide than women. Within those individuals the age for completion of suicide is between 45 and 65 years old.
Indian and Alaskan natives are more likely to commit suicides. Black children (under 13) are more likely that white children to commit suicide.
While white adults are at higher risk for suicide that black adults. We all have to pay attention to our preteens (age 10 to 15) as they are on the rise for suicides already more likely than death by car accident.
There are many risk factors that are associated with individuals who are more at risk for suicide:
Using alcohol or other drugs
Attempted suicide before
Trauma (neglect, abuse, sexual assault)
Witness other suicides
Family history of suicides
If the individual or family member is: actively threatening or informing you of killing themselves, has begun using drug and alcohol more and has “bad” mood swings. The person is likely to be impulsive and consistently talk about death.
More than likely they will begin to prepare for their death by giving away items, writing letters or saying good bye. Social media-in my opinion- puts a different spin on this because people often post their feelings or will “go live” to disclose what may be affecting them.
Be sure to safe proof your home making it difficult for the individual to be successful in their attempts. Some of the things you can do to ensure the individuals safety is:
Speak with them… sometimes individuals will tell you what their plan is or was so that you will know to lock up weapons, pills, take belts and ropes and limit their access to other potential harmful items.
When you speak with them understand that they are in a very fragile state. Be understanding, actively listen and be prepared for anything when having a discussion about their suicidal ideation.
Develop a plan…I often inform my clients that a Safety Plan is not only for clinicians but also for use with another trusted and safe adult. I advise the family to put it in a central location and I give a copy to the client to have in immediate reach.
Actively involve family members that will be most available to the client; this is most important because families often involve members that do not believe the individual or make matters worse by not being here when they really need it.
I also like for the family to get the member to sign it regardless of not having a clinician available because it holds the individual responsible for at least trying the skills they listed that would help.
Signing the plan demonstrates to the family that the member agrees that if nothing is helping and things are getting worse to take them to the Emergency Department.
Here is downloadable version of a Crisis Safety Plan
Follow Through or Follow Up
If the plan is to take the individual to the emergency room do so! Do not think that you are the expert and can determine whether or not it is serious.
ALWAYS TAKE IT SERIOUS!
I know that hospital may send you back home in four hours but wouldn’t you rather that than waking up to your loved one gone. I think it is worth four hours.
You also want to follow through because it sets the standard and lets you and the family know if the plan needs to be changed.
Follow up with their mental health provider!
Most individuals think that when they are released from inpatient care that they are “cured”. Please know and inform others that hospitals and inpatient care has a goal completely different from outpatient care.
Inpatient care consists of regulating your medication and ensuring your safety. Outpatient care consist of finding ways to cope with your life stressors, decrease mental illness symptoms and increasing quality of life.
Mental health providers are trained and educated to help individuals who are experiencing suicidal ideations. There are many different types of therapeutic techniques and activities one can do to reduce negative thoughts.
Some people have to take medication in conjunction with therapy to become regulated and content.
Where to get help?
Law Enforcement/ EMS 911
NAMI helpline 800-950- NAMI
Text “NAMI” to 741741
Suicide Prevention Line 800-273-8255
Department of Mental Health in your area
Hospital in your area