Suicide prevention, while extremely important, appears to not be keeping pace with prevention of other injury related deaths. Of all the deaths by physical injury, the number one cause is suicide. One would think that auto accidents, accidental poisoning, or even more generic ‘accidental deaths’ would all have more deaths than suicide. Sadly however, there are many reasons why suicide is the leading cause of death by physical injury.
When I grew up, we had six kids in the back seat of a four door car. None were in child restraints nor wearing seatbelts. Today you need all of the above and then some. As a child an air bag was someone who talked too much. Today some cars have as many as ten airbags that deploy all over the car. Between the car itself being safer, safer roads, and safer practices by the occupants the death by auto accident has steadily decreased.
Along the same lines is the misdiagnosis of death by auto accident in terms of what is deemed a suicide. It is easier to believe that the driver lost control of the car and hit the tree than that he intentionally aimed at the tree. Some suicides are listed as auto accidents when in reality, they were more likely a suicide.
The same could be said of poisoning. With the labels on medicine today, it is difficult to overdose unless by intention. Yet, rather than list the death as suicide by overdose the cause of death is listed as drug overdose. Illegal drug users have often attempted suicide simply by overdosing.
So in fact the number of deaths by suicide is even higher than what the statistics can support. Why are so many taking their life? Depression, anxiety, loss of a dream, marriage difficulties and divorce, wayward children, financial strain,and loneliness come to mind, and the list could go on and on.
There are no clear signs about suicide, but especially in men as culture has taught men that they are not to show emotion. We are taught to simply solve a problem and when there is no solution, it appears that we have failed. When a man’s back is up against the wall, he can become potentially suicidal. At this point the best thing to do, the loving thing to do, is point blank ask “Are you considering the option of taking your life?”. It is better for all that he become upset at the question than for you to be silent and he proceed with the act. You will not put the thought in his head if it is not already there.
One might ask, if there are no clear signs, how does one know a friend or family member is suicidal? If you suspect, you ask. It is amazing how often people will be honest with this question. They are hurting. They are afraid. They need someone to show that they care. You may just talk your friend out of suicide simply by having him verbalize “Yes, I am thinking about taking my life.”
The second step you can take is getting your friend or family member help. A pastor or church counselor is a good starting point. For many this will be all that is needed. For others setting up regular counseling sessions with a Christian Counselor at a center like Grace Wellness Center will be needed to develop a mindset that is needed to overcome the current life situation. For any of these steps as a friend you may well have to make the contact and help your friend to get to the meeting. They may well be at a point where they cannot emotionally and intellectually make that call. You will have to do it for them.
In conclusion what am I saying is the key to suicide prevention? To simply walk with them. “One another” is a key phrase used throughout the entire Bible. From Genesis through Revelation , the idea of being alone is rejected. I need you and you need me. What a suicidal person needs more than anything else is to experience that (s)he is not alone. You are there. The ministry of presence is powerful.