By Dr Manish Jain
The act of intentionally taking your own life is known as suicide. Having thoughts of ending one’s life or feeling that people will be better off without them constitute as suicidal thoughts. There are people who think of ways to commit suicide or make concrete plans to take their life. A number of factors are at play here. From mental health issues, substance abuse problems and loss of loved ones to severe financial troubles, suicidal thoughts can be triggered in a person for a number of reasons.
Why do people get suicidal thoughts?
Mental and physical health complications, personal tragedies like the loss of a loved one, severe financial crisis, the end of a romantic relationship, and grave diseases are some of the causes that lead people to have suicidal thoughts. These people often feel overwhelmed and think there’s no way by which they can cope with the situation. A sense of grief, rejection, and scarring incidents like sexual abuse can egg people to have suicidal thoughts.
Suicidal thoughts: Signs and Symptoms
A person with suicidal thoughts may show the following signs or symptoms:
• Talking about death and wish to kill oneself
• Increased use of alcohol and drugs
• Isolating themselves and withdrawing from family and friends
• Increased anxiety, agitation and recklessness
• Extreme mood swings
• Getting aggressive and vengeful
• Plagued with a sense of hopelessness and a sense that life is meaningless
• Difficulty in sleeping
• Peculiar changes in an everyday pattern
• Talking about being a burden to others
• Experiencing depression, panic attacks or impaired concentration
But REMEMBER, a large number of people with suicidal feelings keep their thoughts to themselves. So they show no apparent sign that anything is wrong.
Risk Factors: What might lead to suicidal thoughts
There are some experiences and situations in life that may increase the chances of suicidal thoughts:
• Loss of friends, finances and loved ones
• A family history of suicide, substance abuse, mental disorder and violence including mental and sexual abuse
• Getting bullied at school or work
• Substance abuse issues
• Belong to LGBTQIA+ community and experience hostility at home or school/workplace
• Mental health conditions like major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, eating disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder can also lead to this.
How to prevent suicidal thoughts
Suicidal thoughts can vary in degree. Some people might occassionally wish they were dead but has no intention of attempting suicide. Nevertheless, even passive suicidal thoughts can be dangerous.
Here are some ways to manage suicidal thoughts:
1. The first step is to recognise the warning signs – like a sense of hopelessness, feeling of being trapped or feeling like a burden to others. This can suggest that it’s time to reach out for help.
2. A potentially dangerous situation or place can be a strong trigger for suicidal thoughts. When you are say waiting for a metro train, standing on the balcony of a high-rise, you might be overcome by a sense of recklessness. Remove yourself from such precarious positions.
3. Take deep, slow breaths. This will reduce your heart rate while also shifting your attention away from harmful thoughts. Also, relax your muscles.
4. Always tell yourself that things will get better. People overcome dark thoughts and go on to lead happy life. If they can, so can you.
5. Surround yourself with loved ones who will help you get over the feeling of being a burden on anyone.
6. Most importantly, seek professional help. With the proper guidance of a therapist, you will be able to identify possible triggers and explore the right treatment options.
(Disclaimer: Dr Manish Jain is a senior consultant – Psychiatry, BLK Max Super Speciality Hospital. The views expressed in the article are those of the author. Zee News does not confirm it.)