How To Help Persons With Suicidal Thoughts – Frank Mba
Every beginning has an end and so frankmba.ng intends to draw the curtain on our discussion on suicide. Recall that Part 1 dealt on Tips on recognizing suicidal thoughts while Part 2 centered on Tips on how individual can help themselves to overcome thoughts about ending their lives. In part 3 which concludes the series, we will apprise ourselves on how third parties can help individuals with suicidal thoughts overcome such thoughts.
It is important however, that we understand, first and foremost, that a suicidal person may not ask for help. This, nonetheless, does not mean that help is not needed. In fact, people who give up and take their own lives may never have wished to die, perhaps, all they ever wanted was to be free from pains and grief. Therefore, our ability to recognize and respond accordingly to the warning signs or signals which most suicidal individuals give, will assist us considerably in saving lives.
TIPS TOWARDS HELPING SOMEONE OVERCOME SUICIDAL THOUGHTS
(1) Be observant: (See if there is anything unusual about the person). If there is;
- Take the person seriously. If the person complains and says things like: I can’t move on, or I am tired of life etc, offer to share their worries with them.
- Educate the person on the values of life. Let them know that suicide is not an option.
- Encourage positive lifestyle such as eating healthy diet, having enough sleep, and exercising regularly.
(2) Watch out for behaviors, comments or social media posts that indicate that they are feeling overwhelmed by sadness or pessimism about life
(3) Don’t argue with the suicidal person, rather, encourage them to exercise restraint believing that time heals wounds and that they will eventually overcome whatever trauma being experienced
(4) Show concern:
- Listen to them.
- Empathize with them.
- Be concerned about their well-being.
- Do not judge them.
(5) Try and identify what triggers the suicidal thoughts and work on it.
(6)Promise the suicidal person confidentiality of all information he has confided in you, and make sure you keep to your promise.
(7) Be proactive, those contemplating suicide often do not believe they can be helped, so provide constant supervision. Do not leave them alone.
(8) Reassure them that there is help and the situation will not remain the same forever.
(9) Remove means for self-harm.
(10) Ask them for a promise like “I will not hurt myself”, “I will always call you” etc.
(11) Reach out to family and friends of the suicidal person when/if necessary.
(12) Encourage them to avoid alcohol and recreational drugs which may seem to make them feel better but actually end up worsening their situation.
(13) Be very observant of any friend who have attempted suicide before (especially those who did recently).
(14) If the challenge is medical, encourage them to seek treatment, support them by offering to pay their medicals bills, if you can.
(15) Continue your support over the time. Stay in touch, your support is vital to ensure proper elimination of suicidal thoughts, please.
There is no doubt that with the above tips, if we genuinely care to support and help someone contemplating suicide, we truly can do it. Frankmba.ng however will also want to draw attention of the government and other relevant stakeholders on the position of the law with respect to suicide.
WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY ABOUT SUICIDE? A suicide victim (that is a person who had successfully taken his/her life through acts of suicide) cannot be prosecuted under our laws as the victim is deemed not to have committed any offence.
In any case, such person is already dead and you cannot charge a dead man to court. Paradoxically, an unsuccessful suicide attracts punishment. Under the Penal Code, Section 327, for instance, any person who attempts to kill himself is liable to imprisonment for one year.
Some observers have wondered why the law should punish victims of failed suicide or persons who unsuccessfully attempted to commit suicide. They contend that in as much as the suicidal persons do not pose any threat to, or administer physical hurt on others, there is no justifiable basis subjecting them to punishment following unsuccessful suicide attempts.
Frankmba.ng identifies with such position. It submits that, as evident from our analysis so far on suicide, such victims need help, support and care. It reiterates further that rather than criminalizing failed suicide attempts, relevant authorities should in fact, create support groups/lines to provide them with help, as truth be told, such victims do not need to be labelled, stigmatized, nor do they need to be given jail sentence!
The only persons that deserve to be punished are persons who knowingly or deliberately facilitated, aided or abetted suicide. It is therefore our hope that our law makers will take a closer look at our laws and make necessary amendments.
**Authored by DCP Frank Mba **
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