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Suicide is a serious problem in the United States, and nearly 40,000 cases were reported in 2011 alone. While technically not a medical condition, suicide is closely tied to numerous mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia. In addition, those with substance abuse problems or compulsive addictions such as sex or gambling addicts show a higher than average rate of suicide or attempted suicide.
Amongst those aged 15 to 44, suicide is one of the three leading causes of death. Those most at risk for suicide are aged 45 to 64 (18.6% of all cases) followed by those 80 and older (16.9% of all cases), which may come as a surprise to some who think that this is mostly a condition that affects teens and young adults. Young adults aged 15 to 24 are actually at the lower end of the scale with a rate of around 11% of total instances.
While there is no data to support that suicide has a genetic link, mental illness most definitely does. This link between mental illness such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and others can often explain the curious nature of families that happen to be affected by multiple members committing – or attempting – suicide.
Very few suicide cases are documented in which the family or friends saw no warning signs whatsoever. Individuals considering suicide often display telltale behaviors that – when recognized – could lead to successful suicide prevention. Here are a few common signs that your loved one may have suicidal tendencies (note that many of these are general warning signs of mental illness and may not be directly related to suicide):
- Talking about wanting to die, or how they’d kill themselves.
- Using language like “after I’m gone.”
- Talk of being a burden to others.
- Feeling trapped or as if they’re experiencing constant mental pain.
- Increasing use of drugs or alcohol.
- Behaving recklessly, anxious, or agitated.
- Changes in sleep patterns such as sleeping too much, or too little.
- Isolating themselves from friends or loved ones
- Displaying extreme moody behavior.
- Talking about not having a reason to live.
- Feeling hopeless about the future.
What is Suicide Therapy?
Suicide therapy is essentially treating the core issue – often depression or other mental illness – and proving that the affected does indeed have a reason to live. Professionals often use the “SAD PERSONS” scale, which helps them to identify risk of suicidal behavior.
The SAD PERSONS scale is as follows:
- Previous suicide attempt or mental illness diagnosis
- Excessive drinking or alcohol abuse
- Rational thinking lost
- Separated, divorced, widowed
- Organized suicide plan or previous attempt
- No – or little – social support
- Sickness or chronic medial illness
While all talk of suicide is serious, this scale often identifies risk in those that haven’t previously vocalized their thoughts of suicide.
Therapy sessions and prescription medication – commonly antidepressants – are often the prescribed course of action to treat not only the thoughts of suicide but the root cause as well. In extreme cases, or in those that have displayed past intent to commit suicide, the therapist may recommend the patient seek treatment in a 24 hour care facility where they can better monitor mood and behavior patterns that the therapist himself can miss while outside of normal therapy sessions.
Why Hire a Therapist?
Due to the extreme nature of suicide, or any instance of self-harm, seeking help from a qualified therapist could be the difference between life and death. Suicidal thoughts are often the symptom of a much deeper issues and only a mental health professional can accurately assess the situation and deal with the root cause of the thoughts as well as the symptoms presented. In addition, suicidal thoughts aren’t something to be taken lightly and most that experience these thoughts will experience them again at some point in their lives. The symptoms don’t often manifest themselves just once; it’s an ongoing struggle that needs professional guidance in order to accurately evaluate risk and deal with each occurrence as they come up.
What to Look for When Seeking Help
When looking for help, it’s important to choose a therapist that you trust. In order to open up and accurately describe how you’re feeling, the causes of these feelings (if known) and any underlying mental health or stressors that could contribute it’s of the utmost importance that you truly connect with the therapist you choose.
Most therapists that have experience with depression are well-versed in suicidal tendencies amongst their patients, and are qualified to treat those who intend to harm themselves or others.