A suicidal person feels trapped in his/her pain and suffering and he/she may want to end his/her life in order to end the pain and suffering. The key is that he/she want to end the pain and not his/her life. Ending his/her life becomes a solution for ending the pain. Suicidal act usually comes from a place of hopelessness, depression and sense of worthlessness.
Suicide is the act of a person ending his or her own life. It may occur alongside substance use and Major Depressive Disorder. It also happens when people have been faced with difficult situations or experiences such as prolonged grief or a decline in health and from which there is no reprieve. People who consider suicide are experiencing a lot of pain. They do not want to end their life necessarily but want to end the pain that they are in. Suicide becomes an option that can end that pain and suffering.
- In 2013, there were 4,054 cases (11.5 people per 100,000) of suicide in Canada. Among these cases, 3,041 were male and 1,013 were female.
- The highest rate for suicide was between the ages of 50 to 54 years old.2
- In 2016, Alberta had 460 cases (10.8 per 100,000) of suicide. Among these cases, 353 were male and 107 were female.
- Among those who reported to having a lifetime of suicidal thoughts, 36% consulted a professional in the past 12 months and 58% consulted an informal source such as family members or a trusted friend.
- More than 50% of individuals with a lifetime of suicidal thoughts reported that the people they consulted were both Mental Health professionals and family members/friends; both sources were helpful.4
Suicide Warning Signs:
While death by suicide may occur without any warning signs, many people who are suicidal give some warning signs:
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Threatening suicide and/or expressing a strong wish to die
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing alcohol and/or other drug use
- Acting anxious, angry, or agitated; behaving recklessly
- Isolating or withdrawing oneself
- Displaying mood swings
- Telling loved ones goodbye
- Setting one’s affairs in order and giving things away
- Dramatic changes in personality or appearance
- Changing eating or sleeping patterns
Behaviours associated with Suicide:5
- Talking about ending one’s life, harming oneself, or about death and dying.
- Getting affairs in order such as making a will, giving away possessions, making arrangements for family and significant others, and saying goodbye.
- Looking for items that could be used in a suicide attempt.
- Desire to be left alone, loss of interest in daily activities and withdrawing from family and friends.
- Increase in use of drugs and alcohol.
- Taking unnecessary risks such as reckless driving and unsafe sex.
Feelings associated with Suicide:
Thoughts associated with Suicide:
- “I feel so sad and miserable. I hate myself for being this way and I wish I did not have to feel like this anymore.”
- “I’m so useless. I’m always a burden to others and I can’t even fix my own problems. I can’t do anything.”
- “I’m having such a hard time dealing with all my problems. Nothing is going right in my life. I feel sad all the time. I can’t take it anymore.”
- “Nobody cares about me and I just bring problems to the people around me. It’s all my fault. Others will be happier without me.”
Suicide and the Body:6
- Weight loss or gain because of change in eating patterns
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Lack of energy
- Body tension
Suicide and the Brain:
Research shows that the serotonin system (the system that produces chemicals in the brain that helps manage mood) and the stress response system (the system that gets activated with stress) are associated with suicidal behaviour.
Serotonergic neurons are activated by stressful situations and experiences. These neurons control behaviours that are important when reacting to stress. People who contemplate or commit suicide may experience disturbances in these neurons and therefore exaggerate or misunderstand social signs of rejection, have difficulties in controlling their emotions, and have limited choices or options when making decisions. This in turn increases their risk for suicidal behaviour.
In terms of the stress response system, stress causes people to have difficulty controlling their mood and solving problems. They become pessimistic and think negatively about their situations and experiences. They are also very sensitive to rejection and they experience a lot of emotional pain. They are easily angered and have often thoughts of committing suicide.
Because of impairments in these systems, people are unable to control their emotions and are sensitive to social rejection and emotional pain. And because they also find it difficult to solve problems and cope with problems, suicide may become a viable option in dealing with their problems.
Does Psychology work?
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT is a method that focuses on helping you change the way you feel by changing your thoughts and reactions to situations or experiences. It also works at enhancing and practicing your coping skills in stressful situations. According to research, CBT is effective in decreasing hopelessness and suicidal ideation among people who have suicidal behaviors.
- Mindfulness Therapy (MT): Through mindfulness, you are taught to observe the disturbing thoughts while remaining calm and balanced, to cultivate kindness and self-compassion toward yourself, and to return to living each moment as it comes. MT targets cognitive reactivity by enabling you to accept your own thoughts, feelings, and body sensations, without judgment or feeling overwhelmed. In turn, difficult experiences and sensations no longer lead you to believe that suicide is the only solution.
- Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT): SFBT is a brief method of therapy which focuses on strengths and solutions and helps people enhance their coping strategies. Strong evidence suggests that SFBT is an effective treatment for a wide variety of behavioural and psychological outcomes. Time spent in therapy will be on doing the things that might prevent suicide attempts, such as highlighting your coping skills, exploring your reasons for living and helping you envision a more hopeful and optimistic future. There is interest in exploring how you have coped in the past and the therapist tries to empower you to use these strategies again. Using SFBT, the therapist can empower you to identify your strengths and resources so you can manage your problems more effectively.
Tips to Manage Suicide!5
- Seek treatment, care and support by building a good relationship with a doctor or other health professionals.
- Build support networks with your family, friends, or a support group.
- Learn effective coping skills to deal with your problems.
- Whenever you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, it is important to call a crisis support line, friend, family, or any other person that you trust.
- It may also be helpful to create a list of strategies and actions that you can take whenever you think you are at risk of hurting yourself or ending your life, such as activities that can calm you or distract you from your thoughts, people to call, a list of safe places to go, or thinking about your own reasons for living.
The definition of suicide is when a person chooses to end his or her life because he/she is stuck in a difficult and painful situation with seemingly no way out. They feel helpless and hopeless and believe that nothing will help. Oftentimes, suicide is connected to Major Depressive Disorder and substance use. It is important to always have a person you trust and can contact especially whenever you are experiencing thoughts of suicide. Hopewell Psychological can also help you by providing you with effective treatments that will help change your thoughts, regulate your emotions, and create more effective coping strategies. We personalize the therapy to fit your needs and goals – there is hope and we know how to help.
*Psychologists are covered under Insurance Companies in Canada. You will need to check with your insurance company about the specific details regarding your coverage.
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 Forkmann, Thomas, Wichers, Marieke, Geschwind, Nicole, Peeters, Frenk, van OS, Jim, Mainz, Verena, & Collip, Dina. “Effects of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy on Self-reported Suicidal Ideation: Results from a randomized controlled trial in patients with residual depressive symptoms.” Comprehensive Psychiatry, 55.8 (2014): 1883-1890. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.comppsych.2014.08.043.
 Gingerich, Wallace J., & Peterson, Lance T. “Effectiveness of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy: A systematic qualitative review of controlled outcome studies.” Research on Social Work Practice 23.3 (2013): 266-283. 10.1177/1049731512470859.
 Sharry, John, Darmody, Melissa, Brendan, Madden, “A Solution-Focused Approach.” Suicide: Strategies and Interventions for Reduction and Prevention. New York: Routledge, 2014.