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There is no single answer to this. Experts in the field describe a suicidal state of mind as constricted, filled with a sense of self-hatred, rejection, and hopelessness. A suicidal person is feeling so much pain that they can see no other option. They often feel that they are a burden to others, and in desperation see death as a way to escape their overwhelming pain. Everyone responds to adversity differently, for some suicide may be a reaction to expiriencing stressful life events. A common source for suciide risk is the presence of a mental disorder such as, a depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, or substance use disorder.

Suicidal feelings refers to having thoughts about taking your own life, feeling that people would be better off without you, thinking about methods of suicide or making detailed plans to end your life.

There is no definitive answer to this. Suicidal feelings last for different periods of time for different people. It is okay to feel as though you will never be happy or hopeful again. Know that with treatment, support, and self-care, people who were once suicidal went on to live happy and fulfilling lives. You can visit the SPIF need help page for more information. If you are feeling suicidal right now contact the following helplines:

About 80% of people who attempt or complete suicide send out warning signs to the people around them. Check out SPIF’s about suicide page to get information on verbal, emotional and behavioural signs to watch out for.

Suicide is preventable, not predictable. It most often occurs when multiple life stressors, such as personal, political, social, economic, existential, environmental, biological factors co-exist to create feelings of hopelessness. It is rarely a result of a single cause so it is difficult to predict the exact cause of suicide. It’s not always obvious that someone is at risk of suicide, so the best way to know if someone is thinking about suicide is to ask them. One can also understand suicidal behavior in others by learning about risk factors and warning signs of suicide.

A recent study evidenced that the main cause of death by suicide for both males and females is through poisoning and drug overdose. The second most common causes are hanging and burns. Other causes include drowning, falling from a height, and firearm injuries. Thus, when a family member or health care provider is faced with an individual at risk for suicide, they should make sure that poison and other drugs are removed from the home. It has been found that males mostly choose more violent methods of suicide due to differences in personality characteristics compared to females.

There are several ways to talk to a friend, family member, colleague, or acquaintance comtemplating suicide. See SPIF’s advice on asking the right questions, and knowing what to say and do based on what you learn from the conversation with the suicidal individual.

It is important to show a potentially suicidal person that you care and are concerned for their safety. See SPIF’s advice on how best you could help someone having thoughts of suicide. If you feel uncomfortable following the protocol, please get someone else to do so.

Yes, suicide is not predictable but it surely is preventable. In fact, it is the most preventable form of death. Most suicidal people are desperately seeking a way out of unbearable emotional pain but are unsure about ending their own lives. After receiving help to overcome this pain, many people go on to live fullfilling and meaningful lives, never again seriously contemplating suicide. See SPIF’s advice on preventing suicide as an individual, at a school or workplace, and as a mental health professional.

It must indeed be a very difficult time in one’s life to be thinking of suicide as resort to end pain and suffering. However if your partner is openly talking to you about suicide, it can be understood as a cry for help. As suicide is preventable, you could watch out for signs of suicide. Along with that you could also ask your partner the right questions to understand what they are feeling and what you could do in your capacity to be there for them. You could also take the QPR suicide gatekeeper training to undertand this better.

Research suggests that though women are especially prone to psychological problems such as depression; a prominent risk factor of suicide, there is a higher rate of men dying by suicide. For every 100 suicide deaths, 70.2 are males and 29.8 are females. This phenomenon which is still being explored is known as the “Gender paradox in suicide”. The primary reason for this could be the different methods used by men and women where women are known to use nonviolent means, such as overdosing, whereas men often use firearms or hanging, which are more likely to result in death. Secondly, research reveals that impulsivity is higher among men making them more prone to spur-of-the-moment suicidal behavior.

Often when multiple stressors co-exist it causes one to feel unbearable emotional pain. When such stressors are unaddressed over a long period of time, it forms a vicious cycle of stress, making one feel trapped and hopeless. Constant feelings of hopelessness can lead one to indulge in stress induced impulsive decisions. Impulsivity refers to the inability to understand problems and make rational decisions. Research suggests that impulsivity could be a risk factor of suicide.

It can feel frustrating to support a loved one going through a rough patch, especially if they refuse to seek professional help. Try to remember that getting help is a very difficult decision, and they might be feeling afraid. You may feel powerless in the situation since you lack the expertise your friend needs to get better. You can still be there for your friend, learn how.

Going with someone to the counselor often helps. If the person won’t listen to you, follow SPIF’s advice on helping someone refusing to take help or you may need to talk to someone who might influence them to get help. Saving a life is more important than violating trust. For a person determined to attempt suicide, the desire to live is overshadowed by hopelessness and helplessness. The decision to attempt suicide is really a desire to end their suffering. Please don’t give up on someone just because they say they’ve made up their mind to take their own life. Remind them consistently that you are here to care for and support them.

Depression plays a role in more than one half of all suicide attempts, whereas the lifetime risk of suicide among patients with untreated depressive disorder is nearly 20%. While many people learn to manage daily life with symptoms of depression, there is one that requires immediate attention — suicidal ideation. Major depression is a significant risk factor for suicide. However, not everyone with depression has thoughts of suicide. If one is experiencing depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts, it’s important to get help. With the right interventions, depression is treatable, and suicide is preventable.

Alcohol and drug use disorders have been found to be strongly related to suicide risk. Individuals with a substance use disorder (ie, either a diagnosis of abuse or dependence on alcohol or drugs) are almost 6 times more likely to report a lifetime suicide attempt than those without a substance use disorder.

Suicide knows no boundaries, it is intersectional and can impact any gender, race, caste, or class. However, there is an established link between the increase in suicide ideation and persons undergoing psychological illnesses. Therefore, anyone who is known to have a psychological illness and has presented with a history of suicidal behavior is considered to be at risk. Additionally, anyone who is experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, or loss and a sense of isolation could strongly ideate towards suicidal behavior. Persons who are refugees, migrants, indigenous people, and persons who identify as LGBTQIA+ individuals are considered to be highly vulnerable.

Death is a natural part of life, and it’s normal to think about it from time to time. But it’s very common for people experiencing mental illness to think about death more than usual. There could be many reasons for why this could be happening, such as, undergoing depression where one often dwells on negative thoughts, obsessive intrusive thoughts as a result of anxiety which makes one fixated on specific thoughts and, the grief of losing a loved one could also lead to thoughts of death.

It is important to differentiate between thoughts of death and suicidal ideation. Please reach out for help if you or anyone that you know are experiencing warning signs of suicide.

April Foreman maintains that anonymity and distance afforded by the internet can sometimes make people more likely to open up about things they’d have a harder time speaking about face to face. Experts recommend that taking suicide gatekeeper training is helpful. Check out QPR suicide gatekeeper training to signup for more information.

Some points to remember while responding to someone who posts suicidal messages online are:

  • Respond to such individuals in a beneficial manner, this means that one has to find a way to be helpful and not make it worse for a person who is going through such a painful process. This could be done by reaching out to them through a call and actually being there with them in person.
  • It is important to remember that one must never invalidate a person’s feelings when they feel suicidal.
  • Being kind and empathetic is what people need when one feels when they have thoughts of ending their life.

‘Suicide contagion’ or ‘Copycat suicide’ refers to the process whereby one suicide or suicidal act within a family, peer group, school, or community increases the risk of another attempting suicide. This often leads to a suicide cluster where multiple deaths occur due to an initial death. While suicide contagion is a rare phenomenon, it is important to note some circumstances under which they occur:

  • When one loses someone close to them or if someone is already vulnerable (depressed, anxious, isolated, has made a previous attempt, and/or is showing other warning signs).
  • Youth also appear to be especially vulnerable because they identify more strongly with the actions of their peers, and because adolescence is a period of increased vulnerability to mental health problems.
  • Sensational portrayals of suicide in the media through actions or messages that may inadvertently make suicide seem desirable to other vulnerable young people.

No, all suicide attempts are cries for help by individuals experiencing a high degree of distress. Threatening to die by suicide is not a normal response to stress and should not be taken lightly. Research indicates that up to 80% of suicidal people signal their intentions to others, in the hope that the signal will be recognized as a cry for help. These signals often include making a joke or threat about suicide, or making a reference to being dead. If we do take them seriously and ask them if they mean what they are saying, the worst that can happen is we will learn that they really were joking. Not asking could result in a far worse outcome.

The phrase “committed suicide” is loaded with blame and stigma. It implies that the person who died was a perpetrator rather than a victim. This phrase harks back to a time when suicide was considered a sin or a crime. The Mental Health Care Act of 2017 has decriminalized suicide attempts, therefore, the word “commit” should be used for actions, such as “commit adultery” or “commit murder.” This phrase also ignores the fact that suicide is often the consequence of an unaddressed illness, such as depression, trauma, extreme stress, or other mental health issues. Just as one doesn’t ‘commit a heart attack’, one doesn’t ‘commit suicide. Instead, you might hear someone say they ‘died from a heart attack’, dying by suicide is the same.

It might sound like the cancel culture is nitpicking to focus on just two words but using sensitive mental health terminology is important to eliminate negative stereotypes and the consequences of such stereotypes attached to mental illness.

Terms to Use

Took his/her own life
Died by suicide
Died as a result of a self-inflicted injury
Suicide death

Terms to Avoid

Committed suicide
Successful suicide
Chose to kill him/herself
Failed attempt

No. the Mental Health Care Act of 2017 decriminalizes attempt to suicide. Therefore, suicide survivors shall be presumed to have severe stress and shall not be tried and punished. Friends and family members can actively encourage the distressed to seek help without worrying about the legal hassles as they are no longer questionable under the law for this act.

No, research indicates that talking openly and responsibly about suicide lets a potentially suicidal person know they do not have to be alone, that there are people who want to listen and who want to help. It is a common myth that one might plant the idea of suicide by talking about it, it is not true. As a matter of fact, most people are relieved to finally be able to talk honestly about their feelings, and this alone can reduce the risk of an attempt.

The World Health Organization projects a global mortality rate of 16 per 100,000, or one death every 40 seconds. Visit the World Health Organization website for a world map of suicide rate.

Most people who have the risk factors for suicide will not kill themselves. However, the risk for suicidal behavior is complex. People who attempt suicide may react to events, think, and make decisions differently than those who do not attempt suicide. These differences are higher if a person also has a disorder such as anxiety, depression, psychosis, bipolar disorder or a personality disorder. Risk factors are important to keep in mind; however, someone who has warning signs of suicide may be in more danger and require immediate attention.

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Suicide Prevention India Foundation is NOT a suicide crisis helpline. The content has been written by mental health experts but is not a substitute for medical advice. Use all resources at your discretion.
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