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Preventing suicide: the signs to look out for

Written by: Ruth Fenton
Published on: 6 Dec 2016

With the end of the year in sight it is a difficult time for many people. It is so sad to hear when talented legal professionals take their own life. Here is how you can help others you may be worried about.

What to watch out for?

You may notice or hear something which doesn’t feel quite right. For example the person may look depressed, withdrawn, overwhelmed and anxious, not be sleeping, have irritable behaviour or mood swings, be tearful and feel hopeless.

They may have a change in eating habits for example over eating or under eating. Some people seek attention as a cry for help for example by self-harm. They may try and control their feeling by taking drugs or alcohol.

Other things to watch for include putting their affairs in order, saying goodbye to friends and family as if they are never going to see them again, sending strange text messages saying goodbye. Knowing what to spot can save someone’s life.

What to say?

People often worry about saying the wrong thing or get fed up with the person’s behaviour and ignore them. The best thing you can do is reach out to the person and ask them outright. You are trying to ascertain…

  1. If they have been having suicidal thoughts
  2. Whether they have a plan
  3. If they have the means to carry out the plan
  4. Whether it will put others in danger
  5. When they might do it.

For example, you could say, “I’ve noticed you have not been yourself recently, I’m worried about you, what’s going on? Have you had suicidal thoughts? Do you have a plan etc.?

How to get help?

If the person is in immediate danger, call 999. Do not leave them alone, they are unlikely to be thinking rationally. Get them seen by medical professionals ASAP.

“I felt numb, totally destroyed and worthless. I didn’t want to feel like this a second longer. I could only see one way of escaping these feelings.” This lawyer didn’t think anyone would care and thought asking for help made them weak. They suffered in silence until one night they couldn’t take any more. It was a student who saved them, by showing them they cared and pointing out the alternatives.

You can put the person in contact with many organisations whom can help for example; The Samaritans are available 24 hours a day 08457 90 90 90, your GP and LawCare

Five ways to feel more positive  

If you suffer from depression try the below techniques when you are feeling low to change your focus. The key is to break your behaviour patterns and thoughts. The below helps your body to release feel good hormones which will change your mood and outlook on life.  

  • How you hold your body is fundamental to how you feel. When people are low they tend to have shallow breathing, shoulders and head are down. They avoid eye contact. Holding your head up high automatically makes you smile. Breath deeper so you get more oxygen to your brain. This allows you to make better decisions and feel more positive.  
  • Ground yourself in the here and now. Stop what you are doing. Become aware of what is going on around you. What can you see, smell and hear? What can you feel under your feet? This will help you to get out of our head and into your surroundings so you can appreciate the small things you don’t normally notice.
  • Exercise, especially doing team sports, really helps boost your feel-good hormones.
  • Every evening before closing your eyes, write down three things you have been grateful for that day.
  • Create a “feel good diary”. Write down all the things you love doing which make you feel alive. From the very small things like meeting friends for a coffee and cake, listening to your favourite music, to maybe a weekend away. Then write them in to your diary. If you are feeling down pick one for an instant pick-me-up

Please remember you are not alone. You make a massive difference in the world helping your clients and the people around you.