Most Suicide Victims Send Warning Signals

      January 27, 2016 12:39

      Most suicide victims send warning signals to people close to them, but most of their families fail to notice them, a study by the Ministry of Welfare suggests.

      The study interviewed 151 relatives of 121 adults who took their lives between 2012 and 2015.

      Psychologists say that detecting the signals sent by people with suicidal tendencies could save lives. "The sad reality facing Korea is the highest rate of suicide in the OECD, and it is up to society to take responsibility and prevent suicides," said Kim Hyun-soo, one of the authors of the study.

      ◆ Watching for Signs

      According to the study, suicidal people often say things like, "Take good care of yourself when I'm gone," or make references to the afterlife by asking, "What do you think heaven is like?"

      Behavioral changes include loss of appetite and weight and a fixation on artworks and news reports about death. Emotional changes involved sudden crying fits, silence, lethargy and a tendency to avoid contact with others.

      Yoon Dae-hyun at Seoul National University Hospital said people who notice such changes in those around them should first listen and then advise them to seek professional help.

      Suicide often begins to look like an option when a person's pride has hit rock bottom, and this often results from relationships with other people. Simply passing on positive energy to people who say they want to die can help prevent them from killing themselves.

      The worst thing to do if people hint at suicide is to tell them to stop talking nonsense or to offer them vague advice, like telling them everything is going to be fine. If someone close to you displays more concrete signs, such as interest in joining a suicide club on the Internet, they should not be left alone and be taken to an expert for help.

      "There is a higher rate of impulsive suicides in Korea, and many people who plan to take their own lives could be saved if they overcome the worst phase through the help from people close to them," Yoon said.

      ◆ Less Drinking, More Positive Thoughts

      Psychologists advise people harboring suicidal feelings to overcome their shame and fear and tell others about the pain they are feeling. They also warn against turning to the bottle.

      The study suggests that some 40 percent of suicide victims are intoxicated when they take their own lives, while many have problems dealing with others due to their drinking problems and often have other family members who are heavy drinkers.

      A vast majority of suicides suffer from depression or other psychological problems, but only a small percentage seek professional help. Nearly one-third of suicides have family members who either attempted to kill themselves or did so.

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