Springtime and The Risk of Suicide
The following blog post is a personal view of the author and may not necessarily represent the views of Mind in Somerset or it’s partners.
By Chris Rugg
You may wonder why I feel so strongly about suicide, that I need to publish a blog about every year. The answer is quite simple; I am a suicide survivor. Almost fifty-two years ago, which was a lifetime ago for me; I tried to take my own life and failed. I can still remember what brought me to the point where I no longer wanted to live, and how I felt when I learned that I had failed, which I can assure you was not euphoric. In fact, I felt worse than I did before I tried to take my own life; I felt I was an abject failure, because I could not destroy the one thing over which I thought I had total control, and ownership. I do not know how I got through those feelings, but have never been more grateful and thankful that I did; those words do not seem powerful enough to express how gratified I feel that I failed. I have lived, and am living a good and mostly happy life; I have met some wonderful people, and made some fantastic friends. I would have missed all of this if my suicide attempt had been successful.
It is early April, and we at Mind in Somerset have already taken more crisis calls, and calls about suicide than we normally do in any other season of the year. People who are having suicidal thoughts or seriously thinking of taking their lives, or suffering a mental health crisis make these calls, and occasionally, by some who are actually in the process of taking their life. We also have had calls from people who are concerned that a loved one, friend or associate may be considering suicide, and they are not sure what to do.
Contrary to popular belief, suicide-rates rise in spring and early summer (April, May and June) in the Northern Hemisphere, and not winter, as many believe. There are many reasons for this, far too many to list here; but three of the reasons given are;
- the increase in daylight hours, where days can seem to stretch on forever with no end in sight
- the increase in social interaction compared to the relative voluntary seclusion experienced in winter
- and the fact that the majority of the population tend to feel more optimistic and act more optimistically in springtime, for those going through a mental health crisis this highlights how ‘different’ they feel
What are the signs that someone is feeling suicidal?
- they complain of feelings of hopelessness
- have episodes of sudden rage and anger
- act recklessly and engage in risky activities with an apparent lack of concern about the consequences
- talk about feeling trapped, such as saying they can’t see any way out of their current situation
- Self-harm – including misusing drugs or alcohol, or using more than they usually do. Although it should be noted that some people use self-harming as a coping mechanism, and they do not intend to take their lives. If you or someone you know self-harms please contact, or get them to contact Harmless, a national charity for those who self-harm
- become increasingly withdrawn from friends, family and society in general
- appear anxious and agitated
- are unable to sleep or they sleep all the time
- have sudden mood swings – a sudden lift in mood after a period of depression could indicate they have made the decision to attempt suicide
- talk and act in a way that suggests their life has no sense of purpose
- giving away their possessions
- lose interest in most things, including their appearance
- put their affairs in order, such as sorting out possessions or making a will
What can I do to help?
One of the best things you can do if you think someone may be feeling suicidal is to encourage them to talk about their feelings and to listen to what they say.
Talking about someone’s problems is not always easy and it may be tempting to try to provide a solution. However, often the most important thing you can do to help; is to listen to what they have to say.
If there is an immediate danger, call an ambulance and make sure, that they are not left on their own.
Do not judge
It is also important not to make judgements about how a person is thinking and behaving. You may feel that certain aspects of their thinking and behaviour are making their problems worse. For example, they may be drinking too much alcohol, or have stopped socialising.
However, pointing this out will not be particularly helpful to them. Reassurance, respect and support can help someone during these difficult periods.
Asking questions can be a useful way of letting a person remain in control while allowing them to talk about how they are feeling. Try not to influence what the person says, but give them the opportunity to talk honestly and openly.
Open ended questions such as “Where did that happen?” and “How did that feel?” will encourage them to talk, it is best to avoid statements that could possibly end the conversation, such as “I know how you feel” and “Try not to worry about it”.
If you suspect someone may be at risk of suicide, it is important to ask him or her directly about suicidal thoughts. Do not avoid using the word ‘suicide’. It is important to ask the question without dread, and without expressing a negative judgment. The question must be direct and to the point. For example, you could ask:
- “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” or
- “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
Remember; if you feel that someone may be about to take their life, you MUST call an ambulance. It is far better to save a life by taking action, than it is to lose a life through hesitation, or taking no action.
After the crisis has passed and the person is safe, get help and support for yourself, this very important because talking to someone who is suicidal will be emotionally and physically exhausting. You will need to voice your feelings to someone you trust.
Samaritans: 116 123 24 hrs National
Mindline: 01823 276 892 8pm till 11pm – Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sunday Somerset
Mindline Trans+ 0300 330 5468 Mondays and Fridays from 8pm to midnight National
Mindline South Devon and Torbay 0300 330 5464 8pm till 11pm – Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun
LGBT+ helpline 0300 330 0630 10am-10pm every day National
If you have any questions please ring Mind in Somerset 01823 334 906 10am – 4pm Mon-Fri
Chris Rugg aka Wurzelmeone
Author: Marc Lewis