9: Suicide Warning Signs

**TRIGGER WARNING- there will be discussion of suicide. Please discontinue reading if required and seek support from Lifeline (13 11 14)**

Last week was National Suicide prevention week which consisted of R U OK day. It was a time for us to check in on our friends and family. I’d like to remind you that it is just as important to ensure those around you are coping EVERY day as it is one day of the year. Nevertheless, the week was one filled with mixed emotions for many. It was a time to be checked on and a time to check on others. There were people that mourned those that have taken their own lives. There were people concerned for those they love and their mental state. There were people contemplating suicide. There were people in remission from previous suicide attempts. The one thing all of these had in common- the effects of suicide are WIPESPREAD.

 New statistics from 2017 show that 3,128 Australian’s took their own life. There is a likely chance that maybe you knew one of these people. Or maybe you knew someone that had known them. There is an even more likely chance that SOMEONE around you is debating whether to end their own life or not. Sometimes it is the people you least expect. Just because someone appears happy doesn’t mean they are. I know this from personal experience. You project to the world who you want to be. There are plenty of people that have ended their own lives and their families had no clue they’d ever considered it. So many people suffer in silence EVERY SINGLE DAY. 

Suicide touches us all in some way or another. Unfortunately, I was one of those people. I was lucky enough to turn my whole world around and recover. However, there were people I met along the way that didn’t. As much as I’d love to sit and preach the importance of National Suicide Week and pretend I never tried to end my own life- I can’t. I’ve grown a ridiculous amount in the past 4 years and I am so thankful to be here. Through my own experience, and watching others battle the demons in their minds, I began to notice signs. I want to be able to share these with you so maybe we can prevent someone from ending their life. SUICIDE CAN BE PREVENTED!

SIGNS SOMEONE MIGHT BE CONSIDERING SUICIDE:

  • Withdrawing- people often pull back on social interaction. They stop putting in the effort they once did. They no longer engage in the activities they once did.
  • Consistently low mood
  • Reckless or impulsive behaviour
  • Giving away sentimental possessions
  • Sleep changes
  • Sarcastic comments about death/dying
  • Self-harm
  • Saying things like “You’d be better off without me” or “I can’t do this anymore. I’m done.”
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Excessive anger
  • Mood swings
  • Physical presentation changes- not showering, unclean clothes, outgrown hair
  • Has threatened to kill themselves or mentioned they are feeling suicidal
  • Plans in place to end their own life

Have the conversation with someone if they are displaying any of these warning signs. Yes, it may be awkward and uncomfortable. At least you’ll know how they feel and be able to support them if they are considering harming themselves. I’m sure you would rather endure five minutes of awkwardness instead of spending the rest of your life regretting not having the conversation before it was too late.

Lastly, be kind ALWAYS. You never know what people are experiencing on the inside.

8. Managing Overthinking & Worry

Overthinking & rumination
Overthinking happens to the best of us at some stage throughout our lives. Some could be considered productive. Reflecting on our past actions allows us to grow. Yet constant critical reflection, also termed rumination, is a significant contributor to mood and anxiety disorders. Constant analysis of our past encourages us to become hypervigilant of how we may behave in the future. This hypervigilance is also referred to as worrying. Worry is rooted in our uncertainty of future experiences. We feel a level of vulnerability.

Worrying
A worry is a negative prediction of the future. We can worry about actual problems within or lives or we can have worries about potential problems.  I can worry about my unwell family member or I can worry about holding down a relationship I haven’t even started yet. Just as a little reflection is optimal for personal development, worry is too. Worry drives us to achieve and succeed. However, the level of worry is a key indicator of our mental state. If you are one that constantly worries then I suggest you book in with your GP to discuss this.

The biology
When we constantly worry about something, we are training our brain to CONTINUE to think about it. Thus, giving ourselves permission to worry about this one situation, and in turn, worry about every other possible situation. This results in higher levels of amygdala activation. When we are constantly thinking about any situation (past or future) we are producing a stress response within our bodies. In our sympathetic nervous system our fight or flight response is triggered, leading to the release of cortisol. This is what is seen in anxiety disorders- the constant release of cortisol which can create the basis for adrenal fatigue.

BE PRESENT
Whether your thoughts are centred around the past or future they fail to acknowledge the present moment. Try allowing yourself to live in the moment. You can’t change the past. You can influence the future. You have choices in this life. So CHOOSE not to become your thoughts. Live in the NOW You are more powerful than your thoughts. ALWAYS remember that.

TECHNIQUES

Thought Downloading:
When I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed in my thoughts this is my go to! I find I’ll go from “I’m really tired” to “am I on the right path in life” in about 2 minutes.

  1. Get a pen and paper. Limit distractions- phone on silent!
  2. Stare at the paper.
  3. As a thought comes into your mind WRITE IT DOWN.
  4. Repeat.
  5. Do this until you struggle to think of anything else. Breathe.
  6. Notice your mind is clearer.

Worry Time:
This one is for all of you that worry more than you should. You set aside a period at the end of the day to worry. When you begin to worry throughout the day tell yourself “no. Stop. It isn’t worry time yet.” This trains our brains to worry only in a set time limit. You will find that by the end of the day half the things you originally wanted to incorporate in your worry time will no longer feel relevant.