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How to handle a person ready to commit suicide

About 800,000 people commit suicide every year globally. World Health Organisation reports that in every 40 seconds, one person has committed suicide.

In Kenya, suicide rates have risen by 58% between 2008 and 2017, data reveals. The World Population Review ranks Kenya at position 114 among 175 countries with the highest suicide rate.

According to experts, it is important first to demystify the misconceptions people have about suicide. They include:

  1. Myth: People who talk about suicide will not do it.

    Fact: Almost everyone who has attempted suicide gave some clues or hints. Never ignore statements like “I am better off dead… nobody will miss me, …there is no way out” etc

2). Myth: Anyone who tries to kill himself must be crazy

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    Fact: Most depressed people are not insane, they are just depressed and are in extreme pain.

3). Myth: If a person is determined to kill themselves, nobody will stop them

    Fact– Most suicidal people do not want to die, they want the pain to stop. Most battle with the decision between wanting to live and wanting to die until the last moment.

4). Myth: People who die by suicide are unwilling to seek help

    Fact– Studies have shown that half of the people who commit suicide had sought medical help six months prior.

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5) Myth: Talking to someone about suicide may give them the idea

Fact– You don’t give a person suicide ideas by talking about it. Rather bringing up the subject helps the person deal with the issue.

 According to health experts, HelpGuideInternational, how you speak to someone considering suicide determines a lot.  

There are don’ts when speaking to a suicidal person.

1). Don’t argue with a suicidal person. Avoid saying things like, you have so much to live for, you will hurt your family.

2). Don’t act shocked or lecture the person on why suicide is wrong

3). Don’t promise confidentiality– Refuse to be sworn to secrecy because life is at stake and you may need to involve mental health professionals

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4). Don’t offer ways to fix their problems– it’s not about how bad the problem is but how much your friend is hurting.

What you can do:

  1. Listen keenly and let him or her express themselves
  2. Be sympathetic- do not be judgmental; instead, be accepting and show that you care
  3. Offer hope and encourage him or her
  4. Take him or her seriously- question them to find out more and don’t ignore statements with hints