Suicide should not be a secret

This is according to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG).
With depression being the leading cause of suicide, it is important to know as much about the disease as possible.
Depression is a “whole-body” illness, involving your body, mood and thoughts. It affects the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself and the way you think about things.
It is not the same as a temporary, blue mood, and is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away.
People with depression cannot merely “pull themselves together” and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months or years.
Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression.

Signs of depression
* Persistent sad, or “empty” mood.
* Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex.
* Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism.
* Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness and self-reproach.
* Insomnia or hypersomnia, early morning awakening, or oversleeping.
* Appetite or weight loss or overeating and weight gain.
* Decreased energy, fatigue and feeling run down.
* Increased use of alcohol and drugs, may be associated but not a criteria for diagnosis.
* Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts.
* Restlessness, irritability, hostility.
* Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions.
* Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorder and chronic pain.
* Deterioration of social relationships.
Treatment for depression can include talk therapy, medication or a combination of both. Talk therapy with a psychologist, social worker or counsellor can help you understand more about why you feel depressed, and ways to cope. Just talking about how you feel can make you feel better.
Medication is sometimes prescribed by a doctor to help you feel better. It can take a few weeks before you feel the medicine working. Because every person’s brain is different, what works well for one person might not be good for another. We can, however, all benefit from mood boosting activities like exercise, dance, music, writing in a diary, even hanging out with friends.
Causes of suicide often include depression, alcohol and drug use, bullying or self-injury.
People who are thinking about suicide feel alone and isolated, and often believe that no one understands how they feel. Changes in life may be upsetting and they may want to escape a difficult problem or situation, or get relief from terrible stress.
Many teens who are suicidal feel out of control and they see suicide as a way to get back a sense of control in their lives. Sadly, many teens feel like they are a burden on their family, and suicide is seen as a way to relieve that burden or to punish themselves for something they think they have done wrong.
Remember that teens may feel depressed after the death of a loved one – a family member, a friend, even a pet. Suicide may be their way to reunite with dead loved ones.
People who talk about suicide may be likely to try it. In fact 75% of people who commit suicide give some warning. This means all suicide threats should be taken seriously and you can do something to stop a friend taking their life.

Warning signs include:
* Talking or joking about suicide. Your friend may talk about dying, threaten to kill him or herself, or say things like “nothing matters”, or “I wish I was dead”.
* Depression. Your friend may feel hopeless, lose interest in doing anything and withdraw from friends and family.
* Preparing for death. Many teens who are planning suicide will give away favourite things, or even say goodbye.
* Self-criticism. Listen to things your friend says, things like “I can’t do anything right” or “I’m hideous and pathetic”, may mean they are feeling suicidal.
* Changes in personality. Someone who is usually sociable, may not want to go out, may become negative, aggressive or irritable, lose their friendships.
* Loss of interest in appearance, drop in hygiene. If your friend stops caring what they look like, getting dressed or even bathing or washing.
* Risk-taking behaviour. Often people who are feeling suicidal do risky, dangerous things like drink and drive, have unprotected sex, or take drugs.
* Excessive feelings of guilt, self-blame, failure. If someone is depressed, they often feel guilty and blame themselves, and it can be very difficult to talk to them — be as patient as you can.
* Suddenly feel better. If you know a friend who has been very depressed and hasn’t been for treatment, but is suddenly back to normal’ this could be dangerous. It may mean they have set a date for their suicide and know the pain will soon end.
* Writing poems, essays about death, SMSes or painting images of death. This is a cry for help, listen to it and get help.
Suicidal feelings and thoughts are part of depression; they are real and not a sign of weakness. Many of us have felt the same way at some time in our life so don’t be afraid to talk about how you feel.

Suicide Infographic

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