About 75 people gathered Friday night at Lake Tye Park for a vigil and to spread awareness of the seriousness of depression following the suicide of a young local man.
The parents of the young man attended, and there were several speakers and a prayer was said, as people held candles in the man’s memory.
Strangely, as volunteers set up the vigil Friday afternoon, workers at Smiley’s Pro Lube saved another local man from suicide. The man was lying on the railroad tracks waiting for the 6 p.m. train, and the workers wrestled him off the tracks, whereupon he fled.
Another prominent Monroe native died of suicide the week before: See story page (page).
While it might seem that winter months would be the most dangerous for the suicidal, in fact, statistics show that suicides are at their highest during the spring, especially during April and May.
About a million people a year take their own lives around the world.
Experts say that people who are suicidal usually are seeking relief from some suffering, often serious depression. A person in a deep depression may talk about it, or may hide it, but is in either case likely to be unable to see alternatives.
There are certain signs of serious depression.
Talk of hopelessness is cause for concern. Hopelessness is shown to be a strong predictor of suicide.
Talk of suicide or of death, or writing of those topics, is also cause for concern, as is intense guilt or self-loathing.
A dramatic shift in personality is a warning sign, as well; a friend who snaps from begin outgoing to being withdrawn, or who suddenly becomes rebellious or begins acting in a very different way, could be at risk.
Other warning signs include changes in sleep patterns, such as sleeping all the time or sleeping very little. And a suicidal person or seriously depressed person may start taking less care in dress and hygiene, or start eating much less or much more.
When a person begins saying goodbye to friends, or makes a will or gives away prized possessions, especially if the person seems unusually calm, there is reason to be extremely concerned.
If you suspect a person might be suicidally depressed, the first thing to do, according to suicide prevention scholars, is to speak up.
A good list of questions to ask and offers of support to make, can be found at www.helpguide.org. Key points are to listen, be calm and non-judgmental and try to offer hope and the idea that there may be alternatives. Avoid arguing or lecturing, and don’t promise to keep a person’s suicidal thoughts a secret.
If you learn that a loved one is actually considering suicide, try to lean how critical is the risk. Ask if the person has the intention, a plan, the means and a timeframe. If so, it’s time to call 911 or get the person to go to the ER. Do not under any circumstances leave that person alone.
Offering help and support to a critically depressed person can help prevent a suicide. Listen without judgment, and seek professional help for your loved one. A seriously depressed person can be nearly unable to carry out small tasks, and may need help making and getting to doctor’s appointments. Encourage loved ones to take prescribed medications, and follow up.
Don’t wait for a depressed person to call and ask for help. If you believe a person to be at risk of suicide, check in regularly.
Encourage healthy behavior, including exercise, and remove, if possible, the most obvious means of suicide including weapons and pills.
And be ready to be supportive for a long time, even when the immediate danger has passed.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
Volunteers of America Care Crisis Line in Everett, 24 hours/7 days (425) 258-4357(HELP), 1-800-584-3578.
The Trevor Project, a 24-hour crisis line for gay and questioning youth, 1-866-488-7386.
Common Misconceptions about Suicide
FALSE: People who talk about suicide won’t really do it.
Almost everyone who commits or attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Do not ignore suicide threats. Statements like “you’ll be sorry when I’m dead,” “I can’t see any way out,” — no matter how casually or jokingly said may indicate serious suicidal feelings.
FALSE: Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy.
Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They must be upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing, but extreme distress and emotional pain are not necessarily signs of mental illness.
FALSE: If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop them.
Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people do not want death; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever.
FALSE: People who commit suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help.
Studies of suicide victims have shown that more than half had sought medical help in the six months prior to their deaths.
FALSE: Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.
You don’t give a suicidal person morbid ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true — bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.
Source: SAVE – Suicide Awareness Voices of Education