What does someone contemplating suicide look like? I’ve heard several people say that a person that did commit suicide had not shown any tell-tale signs of issues like depression, withdrawal or sadness in them. I’m not saying people are non-observant, because the actuality may be the person put on a happy face in public. There are signs however that tell the tale.
During my research I found five different types of people that are prone to suicide and may or may not show signs of what is going on inside them. I can go over them quickly.
1. Smokers. Washington University School of Medicine noted from a study that the rise in cigarette taxes coincided with a drop in suicide rates. The finality of the study showed overall that for each increase on cigarette taxes each year the suicide rate for the states in the study showed a drop of 10% in the suicide rate.
2. Teens who suffer a concussion. Teens suffering from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can damage a teenager’s neurological health as they grow up. A study by St Michael’s Hospital in Ontario found that teenagers who experience a TBI such as a concussion are at an increased risk to premature death, most notably due to suicide. Teens who suffered a concussion were three times more likely to attempt suicide, twice as likely to be bullied at school, and more likely to call a crisis help-line or to be prescribed drugs to treat anxiety/depression compared to those who did not suffer a concussion.
3. Musicians. One notable musician is Kurt Cobain. He had a personal history of drug abuse along with a family history of suicide. Director for the Center for Suicide Research, Professor Steve Sack, says that suicide rates among musicians are three times higher than the current national average.
4. Adults with Asperger’s. Asperger’s syndrome (ASD) falls under the umbrella of a spectrum of autistic disorders. The study in this area in the UK revealed that people with Asperger’s are nine times more likely to have suicidal thoughts and many even attempt suicide at some point in their life. The inability to socialize or connect with other people exhibited by those with Asperger’s was deemed a contributing factor to suicidal thoughts.
5. Adopted Teens. Adoption creates likelihood for detachment or placement issues and can result from either in institutional or even foster parenting situations. The study backing this issue comes from 1200 teens living in Minnesota showed that 47 out of 56 suicidal attempts were carried out by adopted teens. It’s sad when broken down one more step to show that 16 were male and 31 were female. Among 692 adopted teens in the study showed the majority suffered from a wide range of behavioral issues including family discord, academic disengagement, and externalization of behavior carrying over into negative moods. It was surprising to find that the study showed suicidal thoughts were psychological traits inherited from their biological parents. The conclusion is that, in general, adolescence is a period for suicide attempts.
These five types were derived from research found in the Medical Daily, published 13 August 2014.
Further research shows there is much to be learned in becoming aware of suicide in our society. There are studies showing “passive” and “active” subjects. Some people think a lot about suicide, yet do little towards accomplishing such a feat. Then there are those that take aim towards completing the task that has worked its thoughts aggressively in their thinking.
But to what I have observed in visiting pages on FaceBook that allows people to speak their minds concerning suicide I found basically three types in my reading their posts.
1. There is a group that is just attention seeking and find that making posts about how sad and lonely they are gives them the ability to draw people to them. They may or may not really be considering suicide. Until I see something more definitive in their conversation I can only assume they are there for attention seeking and nothing else.
a. There are those that have true suicidal ideations. Strictly speaking, suicidal ideation means wanting to take your own life or thinking about suicide. However, there are two kinds of suicidal ideation: passive and active. Passive suicidal ideation occurs when you wish you were dead or that you could die, but you don’t actually have any plans to commit suicide. This is a deeper level of the point above, which means “attention seeking” has taken a step forward towards suicide.
b. Active suicidal ideation, on the other hand, is not only thinking about it but having the intent to commit suicide, including planning how to do it.
2. Another group I considered are those with suicidal ideations. This is accompanied by one of the symptoms of both major depression and the depression found in bipolar disorder, but it may also occur in people with other mental illnesses or no mental illness at all.
I gleaned this information from a site called VeryWellMind. This site says if you or someone you know has these issues forming to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. I recommend it as well and still if you have someone closer to you that you can confide in I would say all the more to do so where you can sit eye-to-eye with someone that cares.
3. Then there is the group of those that are indeed suicidal. This is a person who is experiencing suicide crisis. That is the person that is attempting to follow through with the act of suicide. They think it, plan it and after contemplation attempt it by their plan.
What does “suicide crisis” mean? It is a crisis of potential suicide or a moment where the individual decides to follow through with the act. When the person comes to this point if anyone realizes what is going on or feels it is coming to a head, then it is time for intervention by emergency medical treatment because it is indeed considered a medical emergency and is a life and/or death situation. How does a person come to this point?
I will now go more into detail since it is within my family and I don’t want other family members to experience this if they become aware, which this course is about.
My brother was ten years younger than me. He married young and it was not a good marriage. He and his wife had a son. They later divorced and he retained weekend custody although he had to travel a distance of two hours away to pick up his son when he had him.
From about that time on he lived with our mom. Our dad had died a few years before. My brother and mom lived in a mobile home a few miles from the old home place for a while and later had the mobile home moved to the yard of the old home place with the intent to fix it up and move back in. They incurred a good bit of debt in the process. By this time my brother had to go on disability from a neck injury at work and was living on a fixed income. Mom was living on a fixed income as well. They were doing okay for the time until my mom had a stroke. She recovered well enough to function well, but it weighed on my brother. Mostly because the debt was beginning to take on a load that would later become unbearable. He was in constant pain and was on medication for that and high blood pressure. All this gave him side effects that brought him down. It also affected his equilibrium leaving him dizzy. Over time the pain and side effects took a toll on him mental state.
Then in 1999 our mom died somewhat unexpectedly. He was present at her death. This became a devastating event for him. Not only did he lose our mom, but also a support he depended on from her income as well. He eventually became destitute with very little income. Not knowing his state of need, I did get another of our brother’s that lived close by to check on him.
I had them come to a church event where I talked to our brother at length. He described him as despondent, depressed and withdrawn. Do you get the picture? He sat in the midst of a crowd of people at a pig picking all alone not interacting with anyone that I was aware of.
It was not long after that I felt God telling me I should go see him. This I related to earlier and I faltered to do so. I may have been his saving grace and for a bit I felt guilt in not going immediately.
My brother had not communicated with him for a quite some time after the church event and found that he was unable to pay for power to the house and this meant no water as well, so he was living in the house by this time alone in this condition. He had not bathed in months and eczema had become a serious skin issue and he’d not had a haircut or shaved either. Our brother took him home with him and cleaned him up, took him to a doctor and got him medication as best he could and worked with the power company to get him some electricity in the home, which gave him access to water. My brother told me that he had checked on him and he had seemed to be doing okay, but still depressed.
He had withdrawn from church, was not talking to anyone, yet my brother said he kept a check on him, but was unable to do much more than help him get necessities. At this point he seemed stable. Still we were not aware that he was not buying his medication for lack of money and would not ask. I found out much later that he had devised a way to grow marijuana in the woods behind the home place in patches that would not be spotted. He was using it as his medication.
Then came an event I was not aware of until after his suicide. He decided one evening to go a quarter mile down the road from the home to visit the home of our aunt. This aunt had since died and her home was left as if she had just left. He felt he wanted to go inside and just sit and think about the good times before family members had deceased. By this time there was no one else living around the neighborhood that was family. He had to break the lock to get in the home and he did what he went there for, but little did he know he was seen breaking in and they called the sheriff later. When he realized he had a warrant for his arrest it threw him off the deep end. You see, I do know my brother had a strict code of ethics about him underlying the mental state he was in and it was apparent to my other brother and me that he felt in the depths of his depressed state he had violated a most sacred code. This was about to get him arrested and none of us in the family were privy to the impending charge until later. This legal proceeding was about to occur and he could not bear the weight of it and sat down on the bed in the house and placed a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. This was his suicide crisis event and it resulted in his death.
The brother next to me in age is the one that went to check on him and found him.
My eldest son and I were on the roof of my home where we had removed the shingles and were putting on felt paper and new shingles. I got the call of what had happened and my pastor was notified and he and an elder came over to pray with me. I told them I was in a situation where I could not leave immediately until my roof was made safe from the weather, so I called my brother and told him what was happening and I would be there as soon as I could. He understood, so my son and I went back on the roof to make it so I could go. While on the roof, the sons of my neighbor had gone down to the field at the back corner of my yard and had begun to shoot their shotguns for practice since it was October and a few hunting seasons were opening up. Each time I heard a blast of their shotguns, I winced. Finally I got down off my roof and walked to where they were and told them what had happened and they apologized and got back in their truck and drove back around to their parent’s home.
There was a closed casket graveside service of course and there were several cousins and others as well as friends attending. A strange thing happened during the service. The sky at the start was partly cloudy, but then it suddenly darkened and the wind picked up and it began to rain. As the service concluded the rain stopped and the dark clouds blew over. I’ve never seen anything of this kind of event as this service was. I walked away saddened by the way this went.
I vowed to never let God’s urging to go see someone when He prompted me ever again. This is why I am adamant in the calling of God to ministry.
I cannot tell you how much it means to be aware of someone in any state of suicide from just talking about it to planning it to execution of it. Don’t presume or assume. If unsure, talk with them about how they feel about how things are going for them. Don’t be blunt. You have to stay at the least alarming in conversation and only go deeper as you see the need to ferret out the depth of their thoughts. Don’t just let it go. You may be their salvation gift from God.