By Dr. Carolina Castanos, PHD
Sometimes suicide appears to happen out of the blue, suddenly, and without any apparent signs. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on average, there are 123 suicides per day and, men die from suicide 3.5 times more than women . Suicide is the 10th cause of death in the US overall but it is the third cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds and fourth cause of death among 25- to 44-year-olds. Therefore, it is something we need to take very seriously.
We cannot really know what happens in the mind of a person that actually takes his/her life, but we may be able to gather information from those who have attempted to commit suicide, but failed and, or by family members and friends of those who have committed suicide. We know that some things that have caused suicidal attempts are:
- depression, psychosis, or anxiety (these can be chronic or episodic)
- a significant loss, such as a breakup, death of a close family member or spouse, or even the loss of a job (in the case of romantic rejection, our brain goes into panic mode and it may trigger rage and violence that can turn towards oneself, leading to desperation and suicidal attempt)
- loneliness: emotional disconnection from others, feeling abandoned, unimportant, insignificant, rejected by others
- an illness that is life changing or the use of medication that produces mood change
- being exposed to suicidal behaviors or thoughts of significant others such as friends or celebrities.
Many times, suicide is thought about in advance as it starts with suicidal ideations, also known as suicidal thoughts, and it is when one is thinking about or having an unusual obsession with suicide. The range of suicidal ideation varies significantly from fleeting thoughts to extensive ideas, to detailed planning, role-playing, and failed attempts, which may be deliberately done in order to be discovered, or may be fully intended to be done, but did not result in death and the individual survives (e.g., in the case of a hanging in which the cord breaks). In these cases there are some red flags to look for:
- Making suicidal statements such as, “everyone would be better off if I were dead.”
- Joining certain groups online and posting some signs of suicidal ideation such as the semicolon.
- Looking for and researching ways to suicide. For example, getting access to guns, pills, or objects that could be used in a suicide attempt and looking online for information regarding ways to commit suicide.
- Feeling helpless and hopeless about the future and having a profound feeling of loneliness.
- Feeling of worthless, guilty, ashamed, and disliking him/herself (many say they hate themselves).
Contacting family and friends and when it comes time to say goodbye, doing it in such a way as if they won’t be seen again.
Dr. Castaños is a bilingual, award-winning Marriage and Family Therapist with 18 years of experience and a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is world-renowned for helping couples, families, and individuals heal from past wounds, and guide them to establish safe, deeply connected relationships. Dr. Castaños also helps couples that are stuck in negative cycles with issues such as difficulties communicating, loss of passion, disconnection, and infidelity. Dr. Castaños also works with individuals with issues such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, anger and PTSD. To learn more about Dr. Castaños please visit http://drctherapist.com/ .
Photo: By Katarzyna Bialasiewicz (via Thinkstock)