It’s never too late to save someone from suicide. Suicidologists and researchers tell us that suicides can be prevented, if they are detected, and with the right intervention. The suicidal person is ambivalent about suicide. They don’t want to die. They just cannot cope with what feels like unbearable psychological pain. Death may appear to them to be a way of escape or a solution, from ‘psychache’ like anguish, hurt, angst, humiliation or deep loneliness.
FIND means identifying the ‘Combat Indicators’ of suicidal thoughts and suicidal behaviour in order to intervene, by FIXing suicide, STRIKEing at suicidal plans and EXPLOITing by helping the suicidal person keep themselves safe.
Someone who is in immediate danger from suicide will be threatening to hurt or kill themselves or talking or writing of wanting to hurt or kill themselves; or looking for ways to kill themselves by seeking access to means like ligature points, bridges, available pills, or even firearms.
These people need immediate help to stay alive and keep themselves safe from suicide. If you are in this situation, or someone you know is in this situation, you must get immediate help, for example by dialing 999 for emergency services, or contacting a doctor, or accessing Accident & Emergency, or dialing 116 123 for the Samaritans, or contacting other trustworthy support services.
Unfortunately, because of stigma, and feelings like shame, or not wanting to be a burden, many people do not communicate openly about their suicidal thoughts. We need to listen to their behaviour and feelings. Everyone feels differently, copes and reacts to life in their own way, but some additional ‘combatindicators’ of suicide to be alert to:
- Increased alcohol or drug use to cope with feelings
- Showing anxiety, restlessness, and agitation
- Withdrawal from friends, family, and society
- Not replying to messages, or being distant
- Displaying rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
- Displaying dramatic mood changes
- Expressing feelings that they don’t belong
- Talking about having no reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
- Taking about feeling hopeless, helpless or worthless
- Talking about feeling trapped by life circumstances – like there’s no way out
- Talking about being a burden, and that ‘people would be better off without me’
- Talking about wanting to be on their own
- Unable to escape their thoughts
- Unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time
- Not wanting to do things they usually enjoy
- Acting reckless or engaging in risk-taking behaviour, seemingly without thinking
- Giving away prized possessions or seeking long-term care for pets
- Getting their affairs in order
FIND also means identifying and being alert to circumstances that can trigger suicidal thoughts or suicidal behaviour because someone is struggling to cope.
These situations might be:
- Grief from loss, of a friend or family member
- Death by suicide or attempted suicide of a loved one, friend or celebrity
- Relationship breakdown and family problems
- Losing custody and contact with a child or children
- Guilt and shame
- Painful or debilitating injuries or illness
- Housing problems
- Debt, financial and legal problems
- Experiences of combat and violent conflict
- Experiences of training accidents and deaths
- Experiences of bullying and intimidation
- Experiences of abuse
- Experiences of alienation, from children, parents and family
- Not belonging or feeling accepted as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender
If you see, hear, learn about or sense any of these, or other, ‘combat indicators’ of suicide you must take them seriously. You must not dismiss them. None of us can afford to miss suicide or avoid suicide. We have to save lives and keep the person at risk safe, by FIXing suicide, STRIKEing suicide and EXPLOITing with belonging and purpose.
The next video will help you FIX suicide