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What to look out for in would-be suicide, what to do

World Suicide Prevention Day is commemorated on 10 September each year to promote worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides.

The most prevalent occurrences of suicide and self-harm are reckoned to be in the age group of 13 to 25.

On average, almost 3 000 people commit suicide daily. For every person who completes a suicide, 20 or more may attempt to end their lives.

About one million people commit suicide each year.

Every 40 seconds sees the loss of a person to this tragedy, one that shatters the lives of the people around them – family and friends.

For those affected by suicide or attempted suicide the emotional impact can last for many years, but the need for people to escape life and certain circumstances can be prevented.

The World Health Organisation says many teen suicides can be prevented if warning signs are detected and appropriate intervention is conducted.

The reasons: . No two teenagers are alike, but there are some common reasons they consider suicide.. Many teens who attempt suicide do so during an acute crisis in reaction to some conflict with peers or parents.. Such conflicts are common among teens, but those who attempt suicide are particularly reactive to them because they:. Have a long-standing history of problems at home or school.. Suffer from low self-esteem.. Believe no-one cares.. Are depressed.. Abuse alcohol or drugs.. Have experienced other acutely stressful events, such as an unwanted pregnancy, trouble with the law or not meeting high parental expectations.

The warning signs include: . Research shows nine out of 10 individuals who attempt suicide have a history of mental illness or substance abuse, making these extremely important risk factors.. Noticeable changes in eating or sleeping habits.. Unexplained or unusually severe, violent, or rebellious behaviour.. Withdrawal from family or friends.. Sexual promiscuity, truancy, and vandalism.. Drastic personality change.. Agitation, restlessness, distress or panicky behaviour.. Talking or writing about committing suicide, even jokingly.. Giving away prized possessions.. Doing worse in school.

How to help . If you notice any of these warning signs in your child, you should take these steps to offer help and listen. Don’t ignore the problem. What you’ve noticed may be the teen’s way of crying out for help.. Offer support, understanding and compassion. Talk about feelings and the behaviours you have seen that cause you to feel concerned. You don’t need to solve the problem or give advice. Sometimes just caring and listening, and being non-judgmental give all the understanding necessary.. Take talk of suicide seriously, and use the word “suicide”. Talking about suicide doesn’t cause suicide – but avoiding what’s on the teen’s mind may make them feel truly alone and uncared for. Tell the youngster that together you can develop a strategy to make things better. Ask if your child has a plan for suicide. If he or she does then seek professional help immediately.. Remove lethal weapons from your home, such as guns. Lock-up pills and be aware of the location of kitchen utensils, as well as ropes, which can be used as means to commit suicide.. Get professional help. A teen at risk of suicide needs professional help. Even when the immediate crisis passes, the risk of suicidal behaviour remains high until new ways of dealing and coping with problems are learned.. Don’t be afraid to take your child to a hospital emergency room if it is clear he or she is planning suicide. You may not be able to handle the situation on your own.

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