Monday, 10th Sept. 2018 was Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day. It’s a bit of a touchy subject for most people. It’s easier to give into the fear of giving people ideas and not talk about it. Yet all too often it is the unheard voice that causes surprise. And pain.
With this in mind, let’s look at suicide in relation to acquired brain injury survivors.
Ordinarilly I address subjects with an even handedness: serious reflection on one hand, a bit of entertainment on the other. I cannot do it this month.
Instead, if you are questioning yourself in this way I urge you to reach out to someone you trust – someone who will neither discourage you nor encourage you, but will give you their caring attention.
Two helplines to turn to are Headway UK and The Samaritans.
For one-to-one, face-to-face help in and around Norwich, Norfolk, my counselling sessions are available at these times:
Monday to Wednesday = 5pm to 8pm. Thursdays = 9am to 8pm.
Contact: email@example.com or on 0777 552 0302. If you cannot reach me immediately, please leave a message. I will get back to you after 4pm.
Spot the Signs
These are the most common signs. But let’s look again at them in respect of someone living with a brain injury. In this case, it’s helpful to keep in mind their new personality as you’ve come to recognise it.
- Sudden calmness: Is this out of character? Following an ABI, some people’s body language becomes hard to interpret. Some people are left with a lack of emotion.
- Excessive sadness or moodiness: Again, is this the new norm? With little or no short-term memory, there’s no dwelling on things for long; emotions change in stoccarto fashion. Social inhibition and emotional control may be a manifestation of brain injury alone.
- Withdrawal: Choosing to be alone and avoiding friends or social activities are possible symptoms of depression. Though just as true of brain injury sufferers, I’d weigh this with their motivation – as discussed last month.
- Changes in personality and/or appearance: The “new” personality, that is. A person considering suicide might exhibit a change in attitude or behavior. Has (s)he become less bothered about their own safety and/or personal appearance?
- Threatening suicide: For some people, “I wish I was dead” is as much a casual expression as “Sometimes I could…”; they say it without meaning it. Even so, every threat of suicide should be taken seriosly.
- Dangerous or self-harmful behavior: A sensitive time for those with a brain injury (especially if recent) is when he or she begins to realise for themselves the extent of their cognitive difficulties. Bereavement, anger, addiction, recklessness or intentional self-harm – any can be triggered around this time. Another key time is when depression reduces and motivation increases.
- Making preparations: Often, able people deeply considering suicide will begin to plan. The plan may include “For after I’m gone” behaviours – to take care of loved ones “left behind”, for example. Even if such organisation is impossible for an individual they may, over time, learn where and when oportunities present themselves.
It’s easy to get alarmed reading these kind of lists. Has the list prompted a memory of something you found odd at the time? Has something someone’s said struck you as odd? Talking openly as possible to those that matter about any of the above can reduce the intensity of such discomfort.
Okay. I’ve rambled again. I’m a bit late with my posting this month too. Sorry.
I shall be quicker next month..