Monday, November 1, 2010

Suicide, Permanent Call for Help

During this past week I attended the wake of a classmate and a friend who passed away. We graduated together. We had gone to school together since the 6th grade. We were friends in school, not best of friends but friends. He was really a hell of a nice guy. You would be hard pressed to find anyone that would say anything different. 

We rarely saw each other after graduation. We would run into each other on occasion in town or out and about. I saw him last a few weeks ago. Last week, for some reason, life became too much for him. He took his own life. I am not going to go into details or pass on rumors. Very sad. He was married with children.

As a police officer, I have dealt with numerous suicides. They each have their own tragic story and even more of a tragic ending. I can't think of any of them in which I didn't shake my head thinking to myself, how can it be that bad? But, I have come to realize to that individual it has become THAT bad. They are not thinking correctly. Something has tilted too far on the inside.
I am not sure they realize the pain that is caused to the family. In most of the cases I worked, from what we could figure they felt they were too much of a burden, in a hopeless situation and all would be better off without them around. Man, are they wrong.

When a person commits suicide, there is a society driven stigma. The act of suicide invokes such strong emotions ranging from sadness, guilt, anger and embarrassment from family and friends. There is a lot of self blame and the feeling of what could I have done to prevent this. Honestly, most of the time there was nothing that could have been done. It is very tough to protect someone from themselves. Probably the hardest for the family members is to arrive at the fact, it is not their fault.
There are approximately 35,000 suicides per year in the US. There are 800,000 attempts per year. Men are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than women.

In many of the cases there are warning signs. Signs that may help the family get the person help. It isn't a 100% catch all prevention, but it might help. Some of the signs are:

Situational Indicators
Loss of a Relationship Via Rejection or Separation
Death of a Loved One
Diagnosis of a Terminal Illness
Loss of Financial Security
A Change in Physical Appearance
Loss of Employment/A New Job
Loss of Self-Esteem

Emotional Indicators

A Sudden Lift Of Depression!
It is a well-known fact that as a person begins to climb from depression the possibility of a suicide attempt increases. There are two thoughts as to why this happens. The first is that when a person makes up their mind to take their own life, they become more at peace with the situation. They feel more in control and thus the depression begins to lighten. The second idea is that as lethargy lifts, a person finds the energy to carry out suicidal plans made while incapacitated. Regardless of the reason, however, this is a very critical time.

Behavioral Indicators
Acquiring a Weapon
Hoarding Medication
Putting Affairs in Order
Making or Changing a Will
Increased Interest in Suicide
Giving Away Personal Belongings
Mending Grievances
Checking on Insurance Policy
Withdrawing from People

Verbal Indicators
Straightforward Comments:

  • "I wish I were dead"
    "I wish I had the nerve to kill myself."
    "I wish I could die in my sleep."
    "If it weren't for my kids, my husband ... I would commit suicide."
  • Hints:
    • "I hate life."
      "Why do I bother?"
      "I can't take it anymore."
      "Nothing matters anymore."
      Pasted from <

None of these signs are guaranteeing that someone is suicidal. However, they can be warnings.
Be aware, be a good listener.
If it does happen, let them know it is not their fault and be there for the survivors. There are several support groups and help outlets.

In closing, I guess I just wanted to try raise awareness and I am sorry old friend. May you rest in peace, now.

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