Helping A Suicidal Friend Or Relative
If you see any of the above warning signs in a friend or relative:
- get professional help for them
- let them know they are not alone and you care about them
- offer support in finding other solutions to their problems
If you feel there’s an immediate danger, stay with the person or have someone else stay with them, and remove all available means of attempting suicide, such as medicine.
Over-the-counter medicine, such as painkillers, can be just as dangerous as prescription medicine. Also, remove sharp objects and poisonous household chemicals such as bleach.
Youre Afraid Of Recreating Other Relationship Patterns
Weve all seen or experienced examples of unhealthy relationships, whether they were our own relationships from the past, our friends relationships, or our parents relationships. The roots of this fear can go either way, so its important to dig a little deeper into the specifics that come up for you. Are there actual similarities between your relationship and these other relationships?
For example, maybe youve realized that you date people who tend to be clingy or overly needy, and youre starting to notice those qualities emerge in your current partner. If those patterns are present in your relationship, its probably a sign of a compatibility issue. But lets say you worry about getting as bored with your partner as your parents seem with each other, despite the fact that your partner has always been spontaneous and engaging. If youre fearful of dynamics that havent even been hinted at in your current relationship, the fear might be more about commitment.
Rights Of People Receiving Treatment For Mental Illness
A number of laws protect your rights if you are being treated for mental illness, including rights to privacy, confidentiality and other human rights.
The Mental Health Act is recovery orientated. The aim is to support you to recover, which includes giving you clear rights to make decisions about your own treatment. Read about laws that protect the rights of people receiving compulsory treatment.
There are also ways that you can have some control over your treatment.
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Who Decides Whether Or Not Ill Go To The Hospital
In most cases, youll need to make that decision for yourself. The laws vary by state, but usually you can only be hospitalized against your will if you present a clear and present danger to yourself or others. In other words, it has to seem like youre really going to hurt someone if you arent hospitalized. If that is the case, you might be checked into the hospital by a friend or family member, or a mental health professional like a therapist or doctor. But more likely, if one of those people is worried about you, they will try to convince you to check yourself in voluntarily.
In some circumstances, you may want to consider creating a Psychiatric Advance Directive before going to the hospital. This is a written legal document that expresses your wishes about what types of treatments, services and other assistance you want or dont want when you are having difficulty communicating or making decisions. You can also specify which facility youd prefer to be taken to.
Dont Keep These Suicidal Feelings To Yourself
Many of us have found that the first step to coping with suicidal thoughts and feelings is to share them with someone we trust. It may be a family member, friend, therapist, member of the clergy, teacher, family doctor, coach, or an experienced counselor at the end of a helpline.
Find someone you trust and let them know how bad things are. Dont let fear, shame, or embarrassment prevent you from seeking help. And if the first person you reach out to doesnt seem to understand, try someone else. Just talking about how you got to this point in your life can release a lot of the pressure thats building up and help you find a way to cope.
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When Does Emotional Pain Become Unbearable
Suicide, some observers believe, is less an attempt to end ones own life than to escape the mental pain of endless negative thoughts, reliving lifes failures and defeats, enduring constant self-recrimination, and envisioning only bleakness ahead, which are the hallmarks of depression.
Rejection of any kindrelationship breakup, the silence of a friend, social shunning is one of the harshest experiences a human can endure and can create so much emotional agony that it is increasingly linked to suicide attempts among young adults. Studies show that the same areas of the brain that are activated by physical pain are activated when we experience rejection. But unlike with physical pain, psychological pain can endlessly loop through the brain every time such experiences are recalled, the pain is re-experienced in all its acute emotional intensity.
Know When It’s Time To Check Yourself In
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
If you’re experiencing severe depression symptoms, having thoughts of harming yourself or others, or your current treatment just isn’t helping, you may consider checking yourself into a hospital. Although this can be a frightening thought, you may find it less intimidating if you know what to expect from the process.
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Smoking Drugs And Alcohol
If you have depression it may be tempting to smoke or drink to make you feel better. Cigarettes and alcohol may seem to help at first, but they make things worse in the long run.
Be extra cautious with cannabis. You might think it’s harmless, but research has shown a strong link between cannabis use and mental illness, including depression.
The evidence shows that if you smoke cannabis you:
- make your depression symptoms worse
- feel more tired and uninterested in things
- are more likely to have depression that relapses earlier and more frequently
- will not have as good a response to antidepressant medicines
- are more likely to stop using antidepressant medicines
- are less likely to fully recover
A GP can give you advice and support if you drink or smoke too much or use drugs.
You may also find the following pages useful:
Voluntary Or Compulsory Treatment
You can receive treatment as a voluntary patient or compulsory patient.
As a voluntary patient, you can be admitted to hospital, but you are free to leave whenever you want.
A compulsory patient is a person who has been assessed by a psychiatrist and put on a compulsory treatment order. This means you can receive treatment against your wishes while you are in the community or as an inpatient in hospital.
Read about the rules that must be followed before someone can be placed on a compulsory treatment order.
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Do I Need To Go To The Hospital
Its common for people to go to the hospital because of a mental illness. Sometimes people go specifically because of what the hospital has to offer. Other times, its just the first place we think of when we are in crisis. Understanding what happens when you check yourself into a hospital can help you decide whether its the best option for you right now.
Youre Unable To Care For Yourself
Even if youre not thinking of hurting yourself, depression can make it difficult to take care of yourself. You might sleep excessively, known as hypersomnia, and not want to get out of bed or function at all.
If it has become hard to do anything at all including eat or sleep you might consider visiting a hospital for support. The doctors and nurses can help you get back on track.
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When Should You Go To The Hospital For Severe Depression
Knowing when to commit yourself or a loved one to the hospital to be treated for severe depression can be a very gray area. I wish there were a set of directions much like those when you are in labor: if contractions come within five minutes of each other and last a minute, pack your bags.
Some physicians will make the decision for you, but usually it is up to you. Here are a few guidelines.
1. When you are in danger of hurting yourself or someone else.
If you are very suicidal and have gone as far as making plans, you should be in a safe place where you dont have to rely on sheer willpower. All of us who have experienced severe depression know that willpower eventually caves. The pain is just too intense. Likewise, if you are with young children or other people you could harm in a fit of rage, if you dont have full control over your emotions, you should admit yourself into the hospital.
2. When you need to be treated aggressively.
You can be treated more aggressively in the hospital because of the close monitoring. Your doctor can change meds try new combinations, etc. in a fashion that would take weeks or even months with outpatient care. Because the support staff offers round-the-clock care, any unfavorable medication reactions are caught immediately. This can give your recovery a much-needed jump-start.
3. When you need ECT treatments.
4. When you cant function.
Originally posted on Sanity Break at Everyday Health.
Symptoms Of Severe Depression
What are the symptoms of severe depression?
- Loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
- Persistent thoughts of something bad happening
- Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts
- In very severe cases, psychotic symptoms
- Inability to take care of oneself, such as eating, bathing, or fulfilling family or work responsibilities
Although you might feel that there’s no hope, talk to your doctor about treatment options. Even severe depression symptoms can be treated.
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Your Rights As A Patient
Note that the criteria and rules surrounding voluntary hospitalization differ greatly from involuntary hospitalization . In the case that you sign yourself into a hospital, you also have the right to sign yourself back out.
The exception to this rule, however, is if the hospital staff believes you are a danger to yourself or others. If you are not a danger to anyone, the hospital must release you within two to seven days of your formal request, depending on the laws in your particular state.
If you experience any problems with getting the hospital to release you, you should contact your state’s protection and advocacy agency.
While you are at the hospital, you also have the right to:
- Be completely informedabout all tests and treatments you will be receiving, including the risks and benefits
- Refuse any tests or treatments that you feel are unnecessary or unsafe
- Refuse to participate in experimental treatmentor training sessions involving students or observers
With the exception of your insurance company, no one will be told about your hospitalization without your permission.
How Can You Tell If Suicide Is A Possibility
While suicide is often hard to predict, there are some warning signs:
- Being depressed or having other mental disorders
- Talking directly or indirectly about wanting to die or not be around
- Increased social isolation
- Significant changes in appearance and hygiene
- Giving away valued possessions making other preparations for death
- A sudden change in mood
While anyone can become suicidal, there are certain risk factors that make suicide more likely:
- Previous suicide attempt
- Having a family member or friend who recently killed themselves multiple suicides in the community
- Other recent, significant losses, such as the loss of a relationship or job
- Cultural and religious beliefs supporting suicide
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Access to means of suicide
- Unwillingness to seek help and/or barriers to accessing mental health treatment
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Promise Not To Do Anything Right Now
Even though youre in a lot of pain right now, give yourself some distance between thoughts and action. Make a promise to yourself: I will wait 24 hours and wont do anything drastic during that time. Or, wait a week.
Thoughts and actions are two different thingsyour suicidal thoughts do not have to become a reality. There is no deadline, no ones pushing you to act on these thoughts immediately. Wait. Wait and put some distance between your suicidal thoughts and suicidal action.
One Night My Name Was Read Off A List Of Those Asked To Attend An Aa Meeting
After the meeting, my knees knocked together with jittery nerves, and I left the room sobbing. Tales of others rock bottoms offered a chilling reminder of what could happen if I didnt make changes. Though I didnt think AA and total abstinence were for me, it terrified me to think that there was a reason I’d ended up in that meeting.
In the hospital, I also finally came to realize how profoundly my lack of sleep had been affecting me. In the months prior to being admitted, I was sleeping only four to five hours per night, often waking up in the throes of a panic attack after a disturbing dream about my moms illness or death. I’d start each morning wired with anxiety or entirely fatigued, and there was no in between.
Still, I’d resisted taking a sleeping pill until doctors prescribed me one the first night I was admitted. Combined with the lack of alcohol during my hospital stay, sleeping helped me feel more even-keeled than I had in months. My mind easily and obediently turned itself off at night, despite the twin bed, nailed to the floor.
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RELATED: My Postpartum Depression Turned Me Into A Woman I Didn’t Know
There may always be a stigma around depression and suicide, and for a long time, I vowed never to admit what happened during my first pregnancy in regards to my overdose. But I know now that I am not the only one who has been through this. I know sharing my story can, has, and will help pregnant women all over the world seek help and feel less alone.
I am not ashamed of who I was in 2004 because that girl was not me.
That girl was trapped inside her own sick body and held hostage by a disease that made her believe her life was worthless. No one should be led to believe that they are worthless, especially by their own brains.
I don’t expect the world to immediately change its view on depression and suicide, but I do hope that talking openly about it will bring more understanding and compassion to the bright and brave souls who suffer because of the lies depression makes them believe.
A Suicidal Crisis Is Almost Always Temporary
Although it might seem as if your pain and unhappiness will never end, it is important to realize that crises are usually temporary. Solutions are often found, feelings change, unexpected positive events occur. Remember: suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Give yourself the time necessary for things to change and the pain to subside.
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Concerned About Bipolar Disorder
My stay was rough because of the illness, but good for me.
I dont have regrets about the choices I made, or my willingness to go there, to begin with. It was the best place for me to be at that time, with the best help possible. Someone had to figure out what was wrong with me, as I clearly couldnt. Bipolar disorder sort of snuck up on me at the height of my teenage years and hijacked my mind.
What Are The Warning Signs Of Suicide
Often, there are signs that someone may be thinking about or planning a suicide attempt. Here are some of them:
- talking about suicide or death in general
- talking about “going away”
- referring to things they “won’t be needing,” and giving away possessions
- talking about feeling hopeless or feeling guilty
- pulling away from friends or family and losing the desire to go out
- having no desire to take part in favorite things or activities
- trouble concentrating or thinking clearly
- changes in eating or sleeping habits
- self-destructive behaviors
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What Are Your Rights Regarding Hospitalization For Depression
Many people with depression may need hospitalization because they feel suicidal or unable to take care of themselves day-to-day. A doctor must evaluate whether hospitalization is necessary and appropriate and whether a less intense treatment setting, such as an intensive outpatient program or partial hospital program, may be a more appropriate alternative. Sometimes patients are hospitalized against their will if they pose an immediate danger to themselves or others. The laws concerning hospitalization for depression vary from state to state. Generally, you can only be hospitalized against your wishes if you are considered to be a risk to yourself or others or are gravely impaired and unable to take care of yourself.
During an emergency, a health care professional or police officer may require you to be evaluated at a hospital. Once there, a hospital doctor will talk to you and decide whether you actually need to be hospitalized. While the doctor has the final say whether you get admitted, friends or family members can be involved by providing input about your symptoms and functioning to the health care professionals who are evaluating you. If a doctor believes that involuntary hospitalization is necessary, the hospital has the right to evaluate your condition, usually for several days, before asking a judge whether ongoing involuntary hospitalization and medications or other treatments are medically warranted and can therefore be administered against your will.