Helping people who are suicidal

There’s an informative and helpful article in Mayo Clinic’s newsletter this week titled Suicide: What to do when someone is suicidal:

Certainly, not everyone who has thoughts of suicide or talks about suicide actually attempts it. But most people who take their own life have expressed their intention at some time. That’s why it’s important to take any talk or threat of suicide seriously, especially when someone has depression or another mental disorder, is intoxicated, or is behaving impulsively or recklessly.

While it may not be possible to prevent all suicides, your active involvement may make a difference in saving a life. Learn effective, compassionate ways to intervene and guide someone toward professional help when he or she may be considering suicide.

There is still a taboo in India about mental health issues and while it’s probably better than 10 years ago, there’s still room for improvement. I found this article on Rediff calling Bangalore “India’s suicide capital”, not exactly something to be proud of.

We read of suicides almost every day in the newspaper and I’m sure we know of at least one person who’s taken his or her life. The Mayo Clinic article above gives some helpful information on what you can do to help, if someone you know confides in you about having suicidal thoughts.

So go read the article (link again) and check out the resources below for additional information.

Resource 1: The US-based National Institute of Mental Health has more resources on suicide prevention.

Resource 2: Parivarthan, 1to1help, and NIMHANS Family Centre are a few places in Bangalore where you can get help. Most hospitals will also have a psychologist/psychiatrist on their staff.

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4 thoughts on “Helping people who are suicidal

  1. I’d like to add that one way for anyone to intervene when they are worried about someone thinking about killing themselves is to go ahead and Ask the Question- Are you thinking of killing yourself? More often than not, people who are thinking of doing so will answer you truthfully. Then you can persuade them to get the help they need by really listening to their problem and offering them your support.

  2. According to most research only 10% answer truthfully. 90% lie and say something different than what is truly their intention. I have a situation that perhaps I could gather opinions. This is my first blog attempt ever so forgive me if my protocol is unusual.

    Today a man of 80 years took his 85 year old wife to a hospital wher she was essentially awaiting her own demise. This gentleman was accompanying his wife, when he was overheard by staff, while they where running a code on his wife, state “I will kill myself when she dies.” The short version, he was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility within hours. No family, no friends. She was his everything. He will kill himself, I believe it to be an eventuallity. He cannot be released from the facility for a while, I assume. Is this hospitalization a “life sustaining mean” which in essence artificial, what of the ethical situations you may perceive. I have my obligations, and legal obligations. But what are some thoughts?

  3. @drgusjr: I’ve not come across the statistics you quoted but I don’t read journals, etc., just news reports.

    About the case you’ve mentioned, I guess if you have a legal obligation to do something and don’t, then you’ll get into trouble. These sorts of situations are extremely difficult ethically and you can make an argument for both sides. Ultimately, it depends on what you believe. I’m lucky that I don’t have to make such decisions in my work.

    One last point, most means of sustaining or prolonging life is artificial in a way; taking a pill to control diabetes or cholesterol or having a surgery to remove a tumour is “artificial”, i.e. the body does not naturally heal, so doctors have to intervene.

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