121: Suicide and Self-Harm

121: Suicide and Self-Harm

Update: 2023-09-27
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Suicide cases have dramatically increased during the pandemic as exacerbated by the challenging circumstances brought about by the pandemic. And at present, the sad reality is that the number of suicide cases has been alarmingly increasing in the previous years.

It is vital that we acknowledge this escalating crisis and strive to prioritize mental health support and resources. By addressing the root causes, raising awareness, and fostering a society that values mental well-being, we can work towards reducing these alarming suicide rates and supporting those in need during these challenging times.

And since it’s Suicide Awareness Month, we’re going to dive deep into suicide and self-harm to help educate more people particularly about the signs to be aware of.

When should we be concerned about self-harm?

For around 30 years, I've been supporting kids dealing with self-harm and suicidal thoughts. Throughout those years, I’ve emphasized the importance of addressing these issues effectively. Moreover, what I have noticed is that nobody ever thinks their kid is considering ending their life. However, there are many risk factors or red flags that we just miss.

Also, it’s necessary for us to distinguish self-harm from suicide; they are two different things. People with suicidal thoughts contemplate or attempt to end their own life. Most of them struggle with severe emotional pain, mental health issues, or overwhelming life circumstances.

On the other hand, self harm involves intentionally causing harm to oneself without the intent to cause death. Common forms of self-harm include cutting, burning, hitting, or any behavior that causes physical harm to oneself. Self-harm involves intentional harmful behaviors like cutting, often distinct from suicidal ideation.

Non-suicidal self-injury, also known as deliberate self-harm, is a concerning issue closely related to suicide risk and mental disorders, as highlighted by the World Health Organization. This deliberate self-harm does not involve a direct intention of ending one's life but is often a way for individuals to cope with emotional pain or stress. However, it can escalate to suicide life threat behaviors if left unaddressed, particularly in the case of mental disorders.

Youth suicide prevention is a critical component of adolescent mental health, especially in middle-income countries, where mental health services may face significant challenges in accessibility and affordability. The prevalence of self-injurious behavior necessitates a comprehensive approach to mental health support, including education, awareness campaigns, and improved availability of mental health services. Collaboration between governments, communities, and healthcare systems is vital to creating a safety net for those at risk and fostering a society that values mental well-being, ultimately mitigating the alarming trends in deliberate self-harm and suicide.

If your child shows signs of depression or self-harm, seek mental health support immediately. Suicidal ideation covers a range of thoughts, from a desire for life to feeling overwhelmed. Any such statement necessitates investigation and mental health assistance.

If you're concerned about your child's well-being, reach out to a mental health professional or call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-5855. Take these matters seriously and prioritize your child's mental health.

Risk factors for suicide.

Aside from bullying, the most common reason as to why young adults resort to self-harm impulsively is because of a breakup. The emotional toll of a breakup can be overwhelming, leaving individuals grappling with a surge of intense feelings such as sadness, rejection, loneliness, and hopelessness. Because of this, they push themselves towards impulsive actions like self-harm as a way to cope with the emotional pain.

It might seem like a way to externalize the internal pain and find a momentary distraction from the emotional distress caused by the breakup. However, it's important to emphasize that self-harm is a harmful coping mechanism and does not offer a healthy or constructive way to deal with emotional struggles.

Moreover, if a close friend, relative or a community member dies because of suicide, the risk factors elevate significantly for teenagers. The aftermath of a suicide can create a ripple effect of emotional trauma, confusion, and profound grief considering that these teenagers are already in a vulnerable stage of emotional and psychological development.

Clinical conditions, particularly mood disorders like bipolar disorder, predispose individuals to heightened impulsive tendencies, making suicide attempts more likely. Although, it's important to note that having bipolar disorder doesn't guarantee a suicide attempt, but it does place a person in a higher-risk category.

Understanding these risk factors can aid in providing timely support. That is why we deem it important to raise awareness on recognizing these risk factors, including peer-related challenges and bullying, becomes essential. Monitoring your child's mental well-being involves observing behavioral changes and shifts in friendships, typically associating suicide with withdrawal and sadness.

What to do when you have concerns about your child's mental health?

When observing potential signs of self-harm or suicidal thoughts in a child, watch out for various behaviors like anger, fear, resistance to school, and other complaints such as stomach aches, headaches, or even sleep problems.

Sadly, mental health issues in teenagers often go unnoticed. If a child has a history of suicidal statements or attempts, seeking help is crucial. Remember that mental health issues can affect any child, regardless of their upbringing or circumstances. It's vital to prioritize their mental well-being and seek professional help promptly if needed.

Reach out to a mental health provider or contact the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-5855 if there are any concerns about your child's well-being. Taking proactive steps to prioritize mental health can save lives and prevent future regrets.

For more information about self-regulation and other related topics, you may read the following blog posts:

●      https://drroseann.com/how-to-deal-with-emotional-dysregulation/

●      https://drroseann.com/dysregulated-kids-guide/

●      https://drroseann.com/child-regulation-strategies/

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121: Suicide and Self-Harm

121: Suicide and Self-Harm

Dr. Roseann Capanna Hodge