Let’s talk suicide

September is suicide awareness month. Suicide, the act of taking one’s own life is more common than most Kenyans think. This is because it is rarely reported due to the stigma attached to it.
There are two types of suicidal ideation; passive and active. Passive suicidal ideation is characterized by a desire to die but with no specific plan. However, active suicidal ideation involves a desire to die accompanied by a specific plan on how execute it.
Anyone who has an active suicidal ideation or knows someone who has it should seek medical assistance immediately. Most people who die by suicide didn’t actually want to die they just wished for the pain to go away.
Suicide is not a mental illness in itself, but a serious potential consequence of treatable mental disorders. Over 90 per cent of people who die by suicide have clinical depression or another diagnosable mental disorder.
In order for us to prevent suicides in our community, we should be able to identify the signs of suicidal behaviors and take action.
Symptoms includes; feeling helpless, psychosis, self-loathing, hopelessness, paranoia, intense emotional pain, feeling hopeless about a situation, mood swings and sudden changes in personality, severe anxiety and agitation.
Behavioral symptoms include; giving away prized possessions, talking about death, using phrase such as “when I’m gone”… or “I’m going to kill myself”.
Others include getting affairs in order, saying goodbye to loved ones, obtaining items needed for suicide attempt, decrease social contact, increasing drug and alcohol usage, withdrawing from once-pleasurable activities and increased risky behaviors.
If you any of the above symptoms, you might be afraid to bring up the subject but remember talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life. Don’t let you loved one struggle alone. They need help; they need someone to talk to. They need reassurance and an empathetic listening ear.
Most important, get professional help as soon as you can. There are several suicide help line including; +254203000378/2051323 TEXT (22214)
Mercy Mong’are is a Project Officer with Psychiatric Disability Organization. Website: http://www.pdokenya.org/  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Psychiatricdisability/ 

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