Sadness is a powerful emotion, capable of crippling its victims to the point of immobility. If you, or someone you know has felt overwhelming despair after loss of any kind – depressive episode, defeat or disappointment then you understand the deep impact it can have on a life. It is heartbreaking when hopelessness takes over the spirit.
I recently received devastating news of an old friend who committed suicide. It’s difficult to imagine someone in so much pain they would end their life to escape it. Unfortunately, suicides happen far too often, even one is too many. In 2018, the CDC reported 48,000 cases of suicide, becoming the tenth leading cause of death in the US. There is concern that the pandemic has worsened the problem, as men and women spend more time alone, social distance and experience extreme distress. These factors are certainly having an impact on individuals’ mental and emotional health at an alarming rate.
Today is World Suicide Prevention day, a time to spread awareness. During these crazy moments of uncertainty, it is challenging to stay focused but also important to recognize when people are showing behavior conducive to creating a tragic storm. One of the best ways to help others is to pay attention to the signs that can manifest around you. Remaining alert to possible trouble ahead may save a life. Some noticeable signs include:
- Voicing hopelessness, a void in life, humiliation or culpability
- Self-alienation, retreat from others, limiting social interactions
- Expressing feelings of worthlessness or no reason for living
Sometimes, less evident signs creep up but may also be cause for concern such as sleep deprivation, change in behavior that is uncharacteristic or menacing, showing indifference to life or shutting down emotionally. Observing a combination of these symptoms should call on some type of action.
If a situation is urgent, leaving you to feel an individual is a threat to themselves – call emergency assistance, dial 911 to get immediate help. Otherwise, if you have suspicions he or she is experiencing thoughts of suicide, show compassion. Make an effort to really listen, at end of day, people just want to be seen. Suggest the person talk to a therapist or seek some type of medical professional. Calling the prevention line for confidential help, speaking to a religious counselor or someone close to them is also encouraged.
Human beings want to be acknowledged and know someone cares. It can be difficult to see through the filters we use to hide our true selves but having one person to recognize the pain is meaningful, possibly life saving in cases. It can be the one of the most significant acts of human kindness you take on for a fellow human being.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255
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