A study has shown that suicide rates around the world have fallen since 1990’s. This is likely to be due to our society being more aware of suicide and preventative measures that can be put in place to avoid it. Suicide was found to be more common in men than in women across all religions and age groups. However, in 2017, the national suicide rate rose by 3.7%, the sharpest annual increase in almost a decade.
So can suicide be prevented? And how do we do so?
Suicide CAN be prevented as long as you get to grips with the warning signs associated with it. Some indirect warning signs include things like increased hopelessness, viewing oneself as a burden, substance abuse, change in sleep patterns, withdrawing from activities and aggression. As well as indirect indicators there are direct ones like, is the person thinking of killing themselves? Are they communicating intent to anyone?
A big risk factor when looking to prevent suicide is whether the individual has attempted suicide before. Also, keep a look out if they have access to any lethal medication or weapons that they could use to hurt themselves purposely. Many individuals who have attempted suicide go on to say that they had the thought about killing themselves less than an hour before doing so. Meaning that many are impulse attempts, so to prevent self-harm you can restrict things that they may use to hurt themselves.
One of the biggest interventions is to simply ask the individual if they are having any thoughts about suicide and whether they have a plan. They may not give you an honest answer in the fear that they may be hospitalised.
How to ask?
First of all, try not to sound judgemental. Avoid questions such as “What is wrong with you?” or “How could you imagine doing that to yourself?” Questions like these will not receive a positive or honest response. Instead try “Are you thinking of killing yourself?” and more open questions that allow the individual to respond with more than a yes or no answer.
A common misconception is that if you ask someone whether they are feeling the urge to hurt themselves that they will go ahead and do so. Research finds that that isn’t true. Instead, it gives the individual the opportunity to talk about anything that may be troubling them. Many people who are thinking about killing themselves don’t want to die, but to find relief from some sort of pain they are feeling.
With the right DBT skills training you will be able to ask the right questions in the right way.
So What is DBT?
DBT is a treatment that balances cognitive behavioural therapies with acceptance strategies. CBT is change focused which allows for you to change a problem that you may be experiencing. It teaches patients how to better manage and regulate their emotions and how to have stronger relationships with those around them. DBT layers onto this with acceptance strategies such as helping those accept reality as it is in that moment. It practices the art of accepting pain so that it can be changed.