Last Sunday, September 10th, marked the day dedicated to spreading awareness about suicide prevention, around the world. Globally, community and local organisations, schools, universities and workplaces alike recognized the day and its importance. As I write this, there are still several upcoming walk-a-thons and other events in my home country in recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day.
This year’s focus was on highlighting the oft-forgotten impact of a suicide on the victim’s family members and loved ones.
Dey Mar Associates’ public lecture on the day was one I felt sure I needed to share with you.
Let’s go through a recap of the day, shall we?
The Effects of Suicide on the Families left Behind
Mr. Don Hamilton, (family therapist and founder of the Family Centre where the lecture was held) spoke on the fact that while a person who attempts or commits suicide is the identified patient, the entire family unit also becomes a patient that needs treatment.While a person who attempts or commits suicide is the identified patient, the entire family unit also becomes a patient that needs treatment. Click To Tweet
More often than not, a suicidal person is identified as the one who is troubled. According to the systems theory, after a suicide, the troubled party then becomes the family as a unit. Spouses, parents, children of a suicide victim are left to cope with:
- Grief – whether raw grief (primary) or complicated/unresolved grief (secondary)
- The Symbolic strain – this refers to the inability to replace what the deceased symbolised to a family and what the manner of suicide symbolised.
- Layers of unanswered questions – The ‘why’s especially; why didn’t we see this coming? Why didn’t she say something? Why did she say everything was okay?
- Family stigma – onlookers may go on to say that the entire family ‘has problems’ and that the family unit as a whole has suicidal tendencies.
What You Can Do To Prevent A Suicide
Are You Worried About A Friend’s Depression?
Classified as a mental disorder when it prolongs for two weeks and longer, clinical depression is so much more than waking up feeling upset that you missed the biggest party that all your friends got to attend.
Understanding and Helping A Suicidal Person
Did you know that over 90% of people who commit suicide due to depression suffer with it clinically?Did you know that over 90% of people who commit suicide due to depression suffer with it clinically? Click To Tweet
While depression is the main risk factor of suicide, others include bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or personality disorders.
Warning Signs to Look out for with a friend or family member
If you know someone who’s being bullied – for young people, especially of school-age, this is one of the most detrimental (and frustratingly most prevalent) problem. I’ve watched as over the years, bullying’s impact goes from bad to worse. When I was in school, the girls that taunted me relentlessly got nothing more out of me than a few days of school missed because I was tired and afraid. Now, bullies are provoking boys and girls (at increasingly younger ages) to cut themselves or worse – want to die, literally. They feel like the situation is impossible to deal with and that it’ll never end. If you know someone who is being bullied or has been, do something very simple – be a friend to them, be there for them. When a person sees that someone somewhere cares, they’re less likely to feel that they’re alone in the world and that they should erase themselves from it.If you know someone who is being bullied or has been, do something very simple - be a friend to them, be there for them. Click To Tweet
Has a friend been depressed and suddenly giving all their possessions away? On the flip side, maybe they’re hoarding things excessively? – Spend some time with him or her. Meet up for coffee (or better yet, take some coffee to your friend), have a cookie-baking day, or go to the beach together. It’s powerful to get a depressed person in a new frame of mine, or in a new environment. Help take them out of their own thoughts.
Suicide hurts more people than the person who commits it. This is the part that is hardly discussed.
My call to you? Pay closer attention to those you love and care for. Be more aware of your friends and what’s happening with and around them. If you observe a change in personality or mood that lingers, or your friend is becoming distant, reach out. Get him or her to talk to you. ‘Talking therapy’, as its called is so simple yet so effective. There is much to be said for sitting and genuinely being a listening ear. You just might bring someone back from a very dark place, save a life, and the lives of those closest to them.
Until the next, lovelies.