The Psychological Society of Ireland

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The Psychological Society of Ireland,
Floor 2, Grantham House,
Grantham Street, Dublin 8, D08 W8HD.

 

10th September 2013 - Press release


The Psychological Society of Ireland comments on the value of suicide prevention: regenerating a sense of hope for living

 

With World Suicide Prevention Day taking place on 10th September, the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) is offering advice on the issue of suicide. Since the 1990s, the average number of people in Ireland taking their own life in any given year has been approximately 500 people; typically, 80% of deaths by suicide are men. Whilst Ireland’s overall suicide rate is on a par with, if not slightly lower than in other EU countries, Ireland’s youth suicide figures are concerning. Ireland now ranks the 4th highest in the EU for the number of 15-24 year olds who take their own life.

 

Bearing this information in mind the PSI is working with Dr Damien Lowry and Dr Maeve Kenny, both Registered Members of the PSI working with individuals who have attempted suicide on more than one occasion, to offer advice on suicide prevention.

 

Dr Lowry stresses that: “It is important to remember that when a person gets to the point of suicide it is often at the very end of a longer period of distress. There may be many things that contribute to a person feeling suicidal for example bullying or harassment, financial worries, unemployment, housing issues, relationship breakdowns, drug or alcohol problems. Most people who consider suicide don’t necessarily want to die; rather, they want their emotional pain to end.”

 

How might we know if someone is at risk of suicide?

Unfortunately it is virtually impossible to predict who will and who won’t take their own life. However, there are some warning signs that someone may be at increased risk of suicide:

  • Becoming more withdrawn and keeping to themselves;

  • Becoming depressed or anxious or acting erratically;

  • Acting more impulsively or taking more risks e.g. giving up a job, driving recklessly;

  • Talking about suicide or about death;

  • Showing unusual rage or anger;

  • Having a recent loss, such as, a bereavement, ending of a relationship, losing one’s job or moving house;

  • Giving away possessions or saying goodbye to people;

  • Deteriorating at school, college, work or general lack of interest in things.

 

Despite these factors, it is important to realise that often people who are feeling suicidal do not show how distressed they are.

 

If you are concerned about someone what can you do?

  • Listen with sympathy and let them know you care about them.

  • Support and encourage them. This will help them feel less on their own and that they are important to others.

  • Do not try to convince them it’s not that bad. This typically makes people feel worse and makes them feel that you do not really understand their point of view.

  • Don’t judge them. One of the greatest fears that people who are suicidal have is that others will judge them as stupid or irrational and this can prevent them from getting help. It is really important that you understand that they are in pain and are desperate, and that you convey this to them.

  • Ask them “Are you thinking about ending your life?” “Do you have a plan for doing this?” Do not be afraid to ask this question. It will not make the situation worse and it will not plant the idea in the person’s head. Often when someone else puts it into words the person feels relieved. If they answer yes to these questions, the most important thing is to keep them safe. This is a serious situation and the person is at very high risk of suicide. Try to encourage the person to accept more help from trusted family, friends and professionals.

 

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts yourself

If you are feeling suicidal it is likely that you have reached a desperate situation where suicide seems like the only option left to you to deal with your circumstances and your pain. You may feel that your life is out of control and that you are not important. You do not have to end your life to ease your pain or get your life back on track. You can slowly begin to turn things around by taking control of various aspects of your life.

 

  • Learn ways of easing your emotional pain – often people who are suicidal feel overwhelmed by emotions such as distress, anger, loneliness, guilt or numbness. Yoga, exercise, relaxation, art, music, counselling....there are many ways to address emotional pain or distress.

  • Learn ways of dealing with the problems causing your distress. These may be to do with lots of various circumstances such as finances, housing, relationships, unemployment, school, bullying, abuse, trauma, gambling, and discrimination. You may need particular expertise to help you with these issues Your local library, community centre or Citizens Information Services are useful sources of information.

  • Chose to talk to someone you trust or a professional. You may feel like you are on your own; however, there are many people who will help and support you. Take a chance and reach out for help. Tell them how you are feeling. Not everyone will understand or be helpful – don’t be put off, find someone else.

  • Take control of your relationships and be around people who are good for you. If you have people in your life who are not good for you, move away from these relationships.

  • Start doing things you enjoy and give yourself a break from your distress. Find new things to do that are enjoyable and rewarding. Maybe take up a new hobby or activity or make contact with friends and go out and do things together. Go for a walk together, play cards – there are lots of things to do that do not cost money.

  • Try to be yourself with trusted friends and family by not pretending all the time that everything is ok. Let them know that things are a bit tough for you right now – and remember you don’t have to tell them everything. Giving them an indication that you are struggling will aid them to respond to you helpfully.

  • Avoid using alcohol or drugs as these are likely to make you feel worse in the long run. They can affect both how you think about things and how you behave. Alcohol and drugs are also likely to make you act on impulse and to make you think your situation is worse than it is.

 

If you know someone who you think is at risk of suicide or you are feeling suicidal yourself and you would like to contact a psychologist in your area, visit the PSI’s website, www.psihq.ie, and see the ‘Find A Psychologist’ section in order to locate your nearest psychologist. If you need to get help urgently go to the Emergency Department at your local general hospital or contact one of the 24/7 suicide help lines such as 1life on 1800 247 100, or text the word help to 51444, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1800 273 8255.

 

 

 

Ends.

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