The focus of this year’s World Mental Health Day on 10th October is on suicide prevention. The incident rate of suicides is on the rise. People across age, gender, and the socio-economic spectrum are ending their lives. That is why the World Health Organisation has decided that we have to terminate this trend. If people around us might be harbouring thoughts of self-harm then it is our duty to help them. And the best way to do that is to educate ourselves on the risk factors of suicide.
What is meant by risk factors of suicide?
Risk factors are actually situations or factors in a person’s life that deprive them of the will to carry on with life. If a person is unable to cope with these challenges then it will make him/her want to commit suicide. The more the risk factors, the greater the likelihood of an individual attempting self-destruction.
In other words, risk factors are stressors or long-term triggers. If someone you know is facing these risk factors, then you have to keep a close eye on that person for signs of suicidal thoughts or actions.
What are the chief risk factors of self-destruction?
Here are some factors that can lead to self-harm or self-destruction-
- A history of psychological illnesses such as schizophrenia, PTSD, bipolar disorder.
- A debilitating illness like kidney failure, cancer or heart ailment.
- A sudden physical disability.
- Financial doldrums.
- Death of a loved one.
- Suicide committed by a close family member or friend.
- Being a victim of psychological abuse or bullying.
- Legal problems such as long drawn out court cases.
- Previous attempts at ending life.
- End of a relationship or marriage.
- Inability to handle failures or disappointments.
- Social isolation and loneliness.
How to recognise the early warning signs of self-harming behaviour?
A person is likely to exhibit a few signs that all is not well with life and if you can identify these changes in behaviour, you can help your loved one-
- Consistent sadness.
- Rapid mood swings.
- A feeling of losing hope about the future.
- A change in the basic nature of the person (for example a cheerful person might suddenly become reserved and distant).
- Withdrawal from social interactions.
- Erratic and reckless behaviour.
- Episodes of self-harm like slashing the arms with sharp objects.
- The person may start putting things in order, like preparing a will, saying goodbye to friends and family and give away personal belongings.
- 70% of the people who go on to end their lives have at some point stated that they will kill themselves.
- Change in sleep patterns.
If someone you know is exhibiting these signs then you can take help from a suicide helpline. People who are on the verge of taking their own lives need immediate help. Therapy and support from loved ones can help them find their way back to the will to survive.