Lesson

Suicide

Every 40 seconds, a person dies by suicide somewhere in the world. There are indications that for each adult who died of suicide, there may have been more than 20 others attempting suicide. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and was the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds globally in 2012. 12

Suicide does not just occur in high-income countries, but is a global phenomenon in all regions of the world. In 2012, the majority of suicides around the globe occurred in low- and middle-income countries.

“Suicides are preventable with timely, evidence-based and often low-cost interventions.”

WHO

World Health Organization

Warning signs of suicide 

Sometimes, there may be obvious signs that someone is at risk of attempting suicide. However, this is often not the case. A person may be at high risk of attempting suicide if they threaten to hurt or kill themselves, talk or write about death, dying or suicide or are actively look for ways to kill themselves, such as stockpiling tablets.

A person may also be at risk of attempting suicide if they:

  • complain of feelings of hopelessness;
  • have episodes of sudden rage and anger;
  • act recklessly and engage in risky activities with an apparent lack of concern about the consequences;
  • talk about feeling trapped, such as saying they can’t see any way out of their current situation;
  • self-harm – including misusing drugs or alcohol, or using more than they usually do;
  • noticeably gain or lose weight due to a change in their appetite;
  • become increasingly withdrawn from friends, family and society in general;
  • appear anxious and agitated;
  • are unable to sleep or sleep all the time;
  • have sudden mood swings – a sudden lift in mood after a period of depression could indicate they have made the decision to attempt suicide;
  • talk and act in a way that suggests their life has no sense of purpose
  • lose interest in most things, including their appearance;
  • put their affairs in order, such as sorting out possessions or making a will.

It is essential that you always enquire about the player’s safety. You should ask them directly whether they have any thoughts about killing themselves. If they disclose that they do, it is important to enquire more about this and to make an assessment about their overall safety. Some clinicians find this a hard topic to bring up. It can be helpful if you have considered this situation in advance. A good question is, for example: “When people feel depressed, they can feel that life is no longer worth living. Have you ever felt like this?”

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