By Melissa Howard http://stopsuicide.info
Having thoughts of ending one’s life can happen to anyone. In fact, it is surprisingly common – according to CBS, 10 million adults considered suicide in 2015. Unfortunately, suicidal people will often feel alone and isolated, and may be scared to seek help for fear of judgment or reprimand.
It’s absolutely critical to know there is help available, and you are not alone. If you have been having thoughts of ending your life or harming yourself, it’s time to seek help.
Suicide ideation is when you think of killing yourself. There are two types of ideation: passive, which is when you think about it but don’t plan to do it, and active, which is when you start developing a concrete plan. Many people do not seek help until they reach the second type, because they feel that they are not ‘seriously’ considering it.
However, passive ideation is just as high-risk because it can very easily turn active and lead to a suicide attempt. In both cases, you are considering the option of suicide as preferable to continuing to live. Both are dangerous, and you should seek help when you experience either.
Know Your Symptoms
The American Association of Suicidology has outlined a simple acronym to identify people who may be considering suicide: IS PATH WARM. The signs are:
I – Ideation (suicidal thoughts)
S – Substance Abuse
P – Purposelessness
A – Anxiety
T – Trapped
H – Hopelessness/Helplessness
W – Withdrawal
A – Anger
R – Recklessness
M – Mood Changes
Other signs include not taking pleasure in activities you once loved, risky and impulsive behavior, and not taking care of yourself.
While this was created to help people recognize suicidal thoughts in others, it is useful to consider these signs for yourself. You may not have explicitly thought of killing yourself, but if you have experienced any of the above symptoms, it is still worth considering seeking help.
Be Aware of Your Mental Health
It’s common for mental health issues related to anxiety and depression to co-occur with substance abuse disorder. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 18 percent of people with addictions also suffer from a mental health disorder. These issues are a huge factor in suicide rates, as evidenced by the fact that 90 percent of Americanswho commit suicide have a mental illness, a substance abuse disorder or both at the time of their death.
It is extremely important to monitor your mental health and well-being for suicidal thoughts or any of the signs listed above. If your depression has recently gotten worse to the point that you feel there is no point carrying on, you need to talk to your healthcare provider or look to find counseling services.
If you’re a senior experiencing symptoms of depression and hopelessness, know that Medicare provides coverage for mental health care. You’re eligible for a depression screening each year, in addition to other forms of care. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, such as one from UnitedHealthcare, then you’re also covered for prescription drugs you may need. Check your coverage to see exactly what your policy provides so you can get the help you need.
Talking about suicide is difficult, and other people don’t always make it easy. People will often use euphemisms and tread lightly when talking about suicide, because it is still very much taboo in our society. The problem with this is that it doesn’t address the issue, and can make you feel even more alone and misunderstood.
This is why experts are saying that the conversations around suicide need to be clear and to the point. The responsibility is on others to be direct with you if they feel you are becoming suicidal, but this also applies to you. When you decide to reach out to a loved one or professional, do not simply say you have been feeling hopeless or that you don’t see the point in carrying on. Instead, definitively say you have been having thoughts of suicide, and that you are worried about it. It is a difficult conversation to have, but it is one that could save your life.
Having suicidal thoughts is an extremely scary and isolating experience, even if you know you do not plan on acting on them. However, suicide ideation is not something you have to go through by yourself. It is important to realize that there is always help available for you, and that there is always a way to heal.
Conclusion (Dr. Thomas Maples)
If you are having suicidal thoughts there is help. Call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or 9-1-1 to be connected immediately to emergency services. Even though mental health symptoms can be overwhelming, they can be worked through with a professional. While it may be easy to get lost along the path called life, there are ways to work ourselves out of the dark and into the light of a realized state of being.
Dr. Maples can help!