SUICIDE: Ways to Prevent It

Sherry AllchinFor Those Giving HelpLeave a Comment

peace despite suicide

Suicide. It’s nearly impossible to understand, but there are ways to help prevent it.

NOTE: Always dial 911 immediately if you suspect someone has attempted suicide!

Prevention strategies don’t always work. Someone whose determined to die sometimes is “successful” and dies. It’s sad, tragic. 

I talked to a parent whose teen is struggling. Her 15-year-old friend killed himself after several years of bullying by other teens at school.

Could his death been prevented?

Why would a person we love want to end their life?

And what is our responsibility to help and how can we?

The Why of Suicide

When someone attempts suicide, it is not really that they want to die, but rather that they just don’t know how to live and have lost all hope that life will get any better.

They have chosen to take matters into their own hands to end the pain they feel.

We as family and friends, or as counselors, can make a world of difference by our responses to their struggles and by knowing the warning signs. We may not save everyone from suicide, but if we can save even one, it’s worth finishing this blog post, sharing it with your friends and family, and going to our website for additional help.

Grim Suicide Statistics

Did you know that suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States? That’s one death by suicide every 15 minutes! It is the third leading cause of death between the ages of 15 to 24 years, with half a million teenagers attempting suicide. More than 5,000 seniors kill themselves annually.

What Are Some Warning Signs?

A person considering suicide often shows several (though not all) of these warning signs.

Talking about dying. Giving away valued items. When a person talks about suicide or death or makes statements like “I wish I had never been born,” and starts to give away things they have valued, or planning for the care of pets or dependents, be alert and ask more questions.

Changes in habits. Burst of energy. Withdrawal. Recklessness. Another clue is a change in eating, sleeping or grooming habits, or a sudden burst of energy and joy from someone who has been depressed for a long time. This energy burst may indicate that a suicide decision has been made and a calm before the storm). Also be alert to the withdrawal from favorite people or activities, or being reckless with dangerous activities.

Other warning signs. Other high-risk indicators includes a history of drug or alcohol use, physical or sexual abuse, or being in some kind of trouble. When there is a history of depression and antidepressant drugs are given, some people have the side effect of suicidal desires. Also, those who have previously attempted suicide or who have a close friend or relative that has committed suicide are more likely to try.

How to Help Prevent Suicide

Encourage the person to talk to you and really listen (James 1:19, 20) to determine suicidal intent. The more detailed their plan and the more access they have to their method of choice, the more likely they will follow through. Be compassionate as you hear their pain and suffering (Lamentations 3:22-24).

Remember suicide is not so much about wanting to die as it is not knowing how to live with the problem. So they must gain a sense of hope, a reason to live, a hope that there is a solution to what to them seems unsolvable (1 Corinthians 10:13).

If you don’t know how to help them, take them to someone who can help find that solution; a pastor, school guidance counselor, a biblical counselor, and a doctor or the hospital ER are a few who can often help.

The book of Ecclesiastes shows us that life apart of God is not worth living. Each one of us must ultimately come to a place of trusting Christ as their personal savior and starting to grow in their trusting God’s Word for answers to their life problems. Help them see that suffering is a part of God’s will to refine us in Christ, with the goal to change their focus from escape to godly contentment (Philippians 4:11-13).

As they begin to change, they will find their place of service among God’s people, helping others to realize that suicide is the ultimate act of self-love to avoid painful consequences (2 Timothy 3:1-2) and sharing the hope they have found in Christ.

Must I Get Involved?

Talking to someone about their suicidal intent does not encourage them to attempt suicide. Instead, it typically communicates interest and hope because you cared enough to ask.

Jesus commanded us to get involved with our neighbors (Luke 10:25-37, Matthew 22:36-40) and to restore a struggling brother to usefulness (Galatians 6:1-5). Trust God to use you as His instrument of hope to someone who needs help!

As righteousness leads to life, so he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death. Proverbs 11:19, ESV

Now What?

Foremost, if you suspect that someone is suicidal, call 911.

If he or she shares with you feelings of hopelessness, encourage them to talk. As mentioned, talking to someone about suicide communicates hope because you cared to ask, to notice, to help. This doesn’t encourage suicide.

If you don’t know what to say, bring the person to a pastor, biblical counselor, school guidance counselor, doctor, or the hospital ER.

Tragically, someone intent of killing himself or herself will find a way to be “successful” and die.

When someone attempts suicide, it is not really that they want to die, but rather that they just don’t know how to live and have lost all hope that life will get any better.

Be a hope giver. Stand in the gap.

photo credit: Peace in emergency via photopin (license)

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