No Cost Rehab focuses on treating alcoholism and drug addiction. We include this page on suicide for a few reasons. First, we want to be an information portal and provide a thorough experience for our visitors. Second, and most critical, is the connection between suicide, alcoholism and addiction.
According to Physchology Today:
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Depression and other mood disorders are the number-one risk factor for suicide, but alcohol and drug abuse – even without depression – are a close second. In fact, research has shown that the strongest predictor of suicide is alcoholism, not a psychiatric diagnosis. People with substance use disorders are about six times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.
Substance abuse not only increases the likelihood that a person will take their own life, but it is also used as a means for committing suicide. Roughly one in three people who die from suicide are under the influence of drugs, typically opiates such as oxycodone or heroin, or alcohol. Poisoning is the third-leading method used in suicide deaths, and drugs make up 75 percent of suicide deaths due to poisoning.
The first thing to know is that there are three definitions of self-directed violence:
Suicidal ideation – thoughts about or an unusual preoccupation with suicide. These thoughts can include planning or considering suicide.
Suicide attempt – self-directed behavior with the intent to die. Please note that an attempt does not have to result in injury.
Suicide – death caused by self-directed behavior. The goal of this behavior is the intent to die.
Factors that may increase a person’s risk for suicide include:
Access to weapons or other means
Family history of suicide
Previous suicide attempt or attempts
Alcohol, Drug or Substance abuse
Current or previous history of psychiatric diagnosis
Poor self control or impulsivity issues
Hopelessness – presence, duration, severity
Loss– physical, financial, personal
Recent discharge from psychiatric facility
History of abuse (physical, sexual or emotional)
Additional health problems (especially a newly diagnosed problem or worsening symptoms)
Age, gender, race (elderly or young adult, unmarried, white, male, living alone)
Same- sex sexual orientation
The first three warning signs:
- Making threats to hurt or kill self
- Seeking access to pills, weapons or other means
- Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide
The remaining list of warning signs should call attention that an evaluation needs to be conducted in the very near future. Precautions should be in place right away to ensure the safety, of the individual.
- Rage, anger, seeking revenge
- Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
- Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
- Increasing alcohol or drug abuse
- Withdrawing from friends, family or society
- Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
- Dramatic changes in mood
- No reason for living, no sense of purpose in life
Suicide Ideation (thoughts of suicide)
In most cases, suicidal ideation is believed to be the start of suicidal planning and action.
Many individuals will initially deny these thoughts for a variety of reasons including:
- The shame that is associated with symptoms of a mental disorder;
- Fear of being judged negatively;
- Loss of control over the situation; and
- Fear of overreaction and involuntary hospitalizationSome signs and symptoms include: profound social withdrawal, irrational thinking, paranoia, insomnia, depression, agitation, anxiety, irritability, despair, shame, humiliation, disgrace, anger and rage.
- There is a myth that asking about suicidal ideation increases the likelihood of the person to engage in the behaviors – not true. In fact, most patients report a sense of relief and support when a caring, person non-judgmentally expresses interest in their pain.
What to do to prevent a tragedy
Here are some ways to be helpful to someone who is threatening suicide or engaging in suicidal behaviors:
- Be aware – learn the risk factors and warning signs for suicide and where to get help
- Be direct – talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide
- Be willing to listen – allow expression of feelings
- Be non-judgmental – don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong
- Be available – show interest, understanding, and support
- Don’t “dare” the person to engage in suicidal behaviors.
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy
- Do – offer hope that alternatives are available
- Take action – remove lethal means of self-harm such as pills, weapons and alcohol
- Get immediate help from others with more experience and expertise
- Be actively involved in encouraging the person to see a mental health professional
Suicide Information Web Sites:
American Association of Suicidology:
Suicide Prevention Action Network (SPAN)
Suicide Prevention Resource Center: