Gwyn Schneck, MEd, has a unique set of skills allowing her to guide students into promising opportunities and outcomes Read More
Recently the adult son of a well-known evangelist committed suicide. I know of this family, and let me assure you they are a family of love and support. Likewise, I have a cousin who chose to take his own life, and to this day his absence is a huge void in our family. Marie Osmond has been open and public about the suicide of one of her sons. All of these young men were young adults from healthy, loving families, so know that no family is secure or immune from such tragedy and sorrow. Teens and adults alike can be in danger of suicidal tendency. Families are haunted with guilt and questions. What could we have done? How could we have prevented such tragedy? And above all, why, why, why?
There are no easy answers to these questions. Unfortunately life is so much more complicated than a short one line answer. However, probably one important thing that family members can do is basically watch, listen, and stay involved in the lives of the members of the family unit.
Watch for Suicidal Symptoms:
• Irritable and Quick to Anger
• Boredom or Inability to Concentrate or Make Decisions
• Isolating and Withdrawing from Friends, Family, or Work
• Threats or Acts of Violence
• Eating Disorders, Weight Loss or Gain
• Sleep Disorders, Sleeping a lot or not much
• Obsession with Death
• Giving away Personal Possessions
• Drug and Alcohol use
Listen for Suicidal Symptoms:
• Complaints about physical symptoms, stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
• Not tolerating praise or rewards
• Complaint of being “rotten inside”
• Verbal Hints with statements such as: “I won’t be a problem for you much longer,” “Nothing matters anymore,” “It’s no use,” “I won’t see you again,” “I called to say good-bye.”
• Verbal statements like: “I want to die,” “I want to kill myself,” or “I’m going to commit suicide.”
What To Do?
If you begin to see or hear one or more of these symptoms, it is best to approach the person directly and in a straight forward manner. Stay calm, look directly into their eyes and ask, “Have you thought of hurting yourself?” Depending on their response, the next question might be, “How would you do it?” “Do you have a plan?” or “What is your plan?” If you feel like they could hurt themselves, do not leave him/her alone. Stay with them and call a doctor or counselor that would know of a good place to go in your area for a suicide assessment. You can also check with your insurance for covered professionals or hospitals. This can feel overwhelming, but take it one step at a time and work through it with the at-risk person you love. The most important thing is to ask the hard questions. Talking about this will be a relief to the suicidal person. Open and honest dialog could be the thing that keeps them alive. Every time I have asked the question, “Have you thought about hurting yourself?” I have found the person to be honest and remarkably open to talk about it. If you have a person that comes to your mind that you are concerned could be suicidal, let me encourage you to ask this question today.