Doesn’t it seems like there have been many suicides and suicide attempts recently? Its like every other week there is another one. What is happening Bahamas? I know times hard, but damn!
Last year The Minister of National Security made the following statement in Parliament:
Over the past ten (10) years, 1998 to 2008, there have been some 59 reported suicides. Over that same period, there have been some 355 reported suicide attempts.”
Thats about 6 suicides per year, even though many of us might not have been aware of them.
I would venture to say that the attempted suicide figure reflects underreporting in that area. I believe there are very many attempted suicides that do not come to the attention of police for a wide variety of reasons.
The most recent suicides occurred just last month when 49-year-old Abaco resident Jill Stratton was found hanging in her Pelican Shores, Marsh Harbour home.
She was the last of three women who committed suicide during a two-week period.
Twenty three-year-old Acassia Porter was discovered by a family member in a bedroom in their home in Silver Gates, off St. Vincent Road just days before Stratton.
In August, 51-year-old Deborah Smith committed suicide in Abaco.
Back in March, 18-year-old College of The Bahamas student Keisha Thurston and Home Furniture Manager 39-year-old Peter Joseph both took their own lives.
It is obvious that we need to address this issue further and provide people with the resources necessary to help themselves or help someone else.
Studies have found that more than 75% of all completed suicides did things in the few weeks or months prior to their deaths to indicate to others that they were in deep despair.
How To Help a Suicidal Person
- Take Them Seriously: Many people have taken their lives when people thought their statements about suicide were “manipulative” or the person was being “melodramatic.” Remember Suicide is a cry for help.
- Do Not Judge Them: Unfortunately we’re not very open or understanding when it comes to suicide in this country. I often shake my head in disbelief when i hear about person killing themselves or trying to. But fact is depression is a serious condition and a lot of people suffer from it.
- Listen to them: Give the person every opportunity to unburden his troubles and ventilate his feelings. You don’t need to say much and there are no magic words. If you are concerned, your voice and manner will show it. Give him relief from being alone with his pain; let him know you are glad he turned to you. Patience, sympathy, acceptance. Avoid arguments and advice giving
- Urge Professional Help: Persistence and patience may be needed to seek, engage and continue with as many options as possible. In any referral situation, let the person know you care and want to maintain contact.
- Call 911: If the person is telling you either in person or over the phone that they ARE going to kill themselves, you call 911 RIGHT NOW. Law enforcement will come to the person’s home and take them to be evaluated by a mental health person. Even if you feel in your heart, that they will not take their life, you go by what they are telling you. Don’t wait to get over to their house to call 911. You call 911 RIGHT NOW from wherever you are at.
If the suicidal person forbids you to call, is angry about it or upset, you call ANYWAY. If you need to go to a neighbor’s home to call, do it. If it’s in the middle of the night, wake up the neighbor and make that call.
- Do not Leave Them alone: If the person is acutely suicidal, don’t leave them alone. Remove all sharp objects and other things they can use to kill themselves. Stay within eyesight of the person, while you call 911.
- Hopelessness: the feeling that the pain will continue or get worse; things will never get better.
- Powerlessness: the feeling that one’s resources for reducing pain are exhausted.
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, self-hatred, no one cares. Fears of losing control, harming self or others.
- Personality becomes sad, withdrawn, tired, apathetic, anxious, irritable, or prone to angry outbursts.
- Declining performance in school, work, or other activities. (Occasionally the reverse: someone who volunteers for extra duties because they need to fill up their time.)
- Social isolation; or association with a group that has different moral standards than those of the family.
- Declining interest in sex, friends, or activities previously enjoyed.
- Neglect of personal welfare, deteriorating physical appearance.
What Should you “Actually” Say/Do
So what do you actually say to someone who says “I can’t take this anymore, life is not worth living, I’m gonna kill myself?” Keeping in mind the guidelines from above try the following:
1) Acknowledge and accept their feelings even if they appear distorted – “you sound like you are feeling abandoned…,” “that must have hurt you terribly…,” how does make you feel”? “are feeling like there is no hope”? etc.
2) Be an active listener- repeat some of their statements back to them to let them know you are listening. For example, “so what you are saying is…, “I’m hearing you saying you hate yourself…,” so receiving that letter made you feel abandoned…” “I hear you saying you want to die,” etc.
3) Try to give them hope and remind them what they are feeling is temporary, without provoking guilt. “I know you feel you cannot go on, but things will get better,” “What you are feeling is temporary,” “I believe in you and that you will get better,” “There is a light at the end of the tunnel – it’s ok if you don’t see it now.”
4) Be there for them. If they are not there with you, go to them or have them come to you. It is better if you go to them, in case they can their mind and don’t show up where you are.
Noted local psychiatrist Dr. Timothy Barret told the Nassau Guardian that violence against self has become more prevalent in recent times and as a result we should be more concerned.
We need to educate people more and get them the right information and resources to seek help when they are in trouble. There are too many people suffering in silence, afraid of being ostracized. Afraid of being called “Crazy” by people. Depression is real, and if left on treated it’s Dangerous.
If you or anyone you know are experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts you can contact your local church as most churches have counseling available. Two additional resources:
Christian Counseling Center: 242 323 7000
Bahamas Crisis Center: 242 328 0922
By reading this article hopefully you now have a better understanding of how to act if someo
ne you know and love is suicidal.
— Straight Talk–