Support suicide attempt survivors.
The support for a suicide attempt survivor is more important than the prevention or detection of suicide itself.
Suicide attempt survivors needs support and resources after a devastating experience.
Some suicide attempt survivors still struggle to regain their lost rhythm.
Therefore, in our prevention of suicide, it’s important to note that suicide attempt survivors are likely to commit suicide again if not supported with the resources they truly deserve.
It takes time for suicide attempt survivors regain physically and psychologically.
In fact, more attention is highly needed to help victims of attempted suicide cope with the psychological stress and regain their clarity about their values, beliefs and outlook about their lives, career, businesses and families.
In our previous blog, we revealed how a medical doctor committed suicide.
Just barely the same week, two women have been rescued along 3rd mainland bridge.
One of the victims, a 71-year-old food vendor, collected a sum of money from a micro finance bank and had failed on the weekly refund for two weeks.
The second victim, a textile dealer in Lagos Island, had also made an attempt to jump into the lagoon before she was rescued.
She was alleged to have been indebted to her foreign partners.
The incidents make the second and third cases of suicide attempts foiled in Lagos in less than a week.
According to the city’s Commissioner of police, after interacting with the woman, said that she had been going through depression as a result of the huge debt.
‘Right now, the woman is still in trauma. She is still insisting that she wants to end her life’, the police boss said.
Suicide survivors are still at risk.
The aftermath of a suicide attempt is one which must not be taken lightly.
How can survivors of an attempted suicide regain their lives back?
It is note worthy that family and friends know what to do and when to be alert after someone they care about has had a suicide attempt.
It is a very scary time for both the person and those who care for the person.
Research shows that in the days, weeks and months immediately following an attempt is the time when the person needs a lot of support and that is a time that he is most at risk of suicide.
Only 10% of the people who attempt suicide will go on to complete and die by suicide.
But 80% of those who die by suicide have made a previous attempt.
So while chances are that this person won’t attempt again, he or she is also at an increased risk for dying by suicide.
The first six months after a hospitalization are especially critical to the suicide attempt survivor, and the person remains at an elevated risk for the entire first year.
Also know that research shows that 90% of those who die by suicide had a diagnosable mental illness at the time of death.
In helping a victim return back to normal life, the care giver should try not to focus only on the act itself.
What else was going on in the person’s life that may have precipitated the attempt?
Do they abuse alcohol or drugs? Do they gamble?
These are some issues that are often associated with attempts.
Support is usually available for these issues.
How to help someone who has attempted suicide.
1. At the survivor’s residence, remove all guns from the house and restrict access to lethal means as much as possible.
2. Provide resources that are meant to support suicide attempt survivors.
Encourage suicide attempt survivors to attend mental health conferences and ensure that they are not just a passive participant but an active one.
In other words, they should be able to share their own stories and lessons of hope.
Additionally, suggest a session with a psychologist for them and for the family/caretakers before leaving the hospital to assess their mental state.
3. Get individual and family therapy for suicide attempt survivors.
Create scales for 3-5 emotions or thoughts such as loneliness, depression, or suicidal thoughts that can help gauge how he or she is doing and whether or not he or she needs your help.
Suicide attempt survivors could also form a support group to encourage themselves on how they can start building their lives again.
4. Suicide attempt survivors should be able to access help from trusted friends and other mental health professional or psychologist for information on suicide and mental illness.
5. Avoid discrimination and stigmatization on suicide attempt survivors.
Try to make statements such as, “I’m sorry you felt that way and I wish I could have helped you,” or “I’m sorry I didn’t realize you were in such pain,” or” I can’t imagine how bad you must have felt,” or finally, “I want to help you, tell me what I can do to help you now”
6. Try making hope cards, which are simply index cards.
A mental health giver should support the attempted suicide survivor by helping them put into writing what caused them to feel suicidal on one side of the card and on the other side how they can work together to create a list of things that can challenge or change these thoughts.
For example, perhaps someone feels suicidal when they believe nobody cares for or loves them.
On one side they may write, “unloved” and on the other side, they can list all the people in their life who do care about them and/or love them, such as parents, spouse, siblings, partner, friends, children, etc.
The cards can be carried at all times and when these feelings come up the person can pull them out the stack of cards, read them and manage his or her feelings.
What to say to a suicide attempt survivor.
1. You are a very strong and brave person to have attempted suicide but we already have a better way out of this mess for you and you will be fine.
2. You needed attention and thank goodness, we are here to support you with whatever you need.
3. Don’t feel bad, you were trying to avoid pain. Nobody likes pain. And everyone of us like to avoid it sometimes. I am here to help you ease the pain.
4. You are not alone in this situation. There are a numerous people who have also survived suicide and you are going to help others survive too.
Useful Resources for suicide attempt survivors.