Suicide: Identity and Prevention

Posted on March 27, 2015


By Shea McCord

1424897604According to the Mississippi Department of Mental Health’s “Shatter the Silence,” “suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among teens in Mississippi.” Is a teenager you know contemplating suicide? How are you supposed to know if someone is considering suicide? But most importantly, what can you do to help?

Shatter the Silence reports that often “4 out of 5 people give warning signs” when contemplating suicide. If the majority of suicidal people “give warning signs” that something is wrong, then how are friends and family supposed to decide a person might be suicidal? The warning signs listed by Shatter the Silence include;“changes from typical behaviors such as having problems at school or not wanting to go out with friends, personality & mood changes, having problems concentrating, losing interest in activities you enjoy, feeling rotten inside, changes in eating & sleeping, talking, writing or thinking about suicide, feeling hopeless, helpless and/or worthless, and/or using or increasing use of drugs or alcohol.”
Most of these warning signs are associated with some kind of risk factor. For example, “changes from typical behavior” could happen with any teenager, but if you associate these changes with depression, then there is a reason to be concerned. Still, having a risk factor, such as depression, does not guarantee that a person is suicidal. The risk factors are simply matters that we must remain aware of if other warning signs have already been noticed.

If you notice these warning signs and risk factors in someone close to you, what is your next step? Talk to the person contemplating suicide, and find an adult you trust so that you can express your concerns. When you talk a suicidal person, you demonstrate “concern and support.” While it is important to demonstrate your concern for his or her well being, you are also showing him or her that he or she is not alone and you are there for him or her. Although it might be difficult to talk to an adult about what your friend is going through, “it is a true act of friendship to share your concerns” because you are looking out for your friend’s well being, and you are trying to protect your friend.

Some school districts have Crisis Emergency plans in place for when a student displays suicidal thoughts. These plans include meeting with the student’s parents to discuss the student’s suicidal thoughts. The student is then required to begin treatment for his or her emotional condition. Finally, the student will not be allowed to return to school until he or she no longer suffers from suicidal thoughts. These plans are in place to protect the student and help improve his or her mental health. Taking a break from school allows students to spend time in therapy or recover in other suitable ways so that they will no longer be suicidal when the time is appropriate to return to school.

If you or someone you know is suicidal, you are urged you to seek help. If one of your friends displays these warning signs in addition to the risk factors, do not abandon him or her simply because he or she is not acting normally or you fear to get involved. This might be the time when he or she needs you the most. Although the warning signs and risk factors are not a sure fire way to identify suicidal people, be mindful when you see someone displaying these factors.
“Shatter The Silence.” MS Department of Mental Health Shatter The Silence Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2015.

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