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Bowing out

Updated: Dec 25, 2022


When I trained in martial arts, one of the most important lessons I learned was to 'bow out' out with honor. When I tapped out of a sparring match I did so with the knowledge that I had used all available resources to help me before I made the decision to leave or say, "no more, I can't take this." Tapping out of a head lock is not the same as tapping out of life.


Suicide has hit us hard this season. There have been several incidents over the course of my career that clients have chosen to end their lives. It's always a shocker to a professional, to a friend, to a stranger, and a family member when we've become aware that a person we know has ended their lives purposefully. We begin questioning ourselves on whether we did enough for the person who successfully committed the act of suicide.


According to the Center for Disease Control and prevention, 1.2 million people in the United States attempted suicide in 2020. Those that succeeded in taking committing suicide in the US iin 2020 numbered 45, 979. The data showed that while rates decreased for White Americans, suicide rates rose among American Indians, Alaska Natives, Black Americans, and Hispanic Americans. Young adults also experienced an increase in suicide rates. While the rates are staggering, it is even more staggering to find that your loved one has succeeded in committing suicide.


We've all too often seen photos of happy go-lucky celebrities who were hiding deep depressions and took fatal actions against themselves. That leads us to ask the question:

What are the signs of someone contemplating suicide?


According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Warning Signs of Suicide are:


Talking about:

  • Wanting to die

  • Great guilt or shame

  • Being a burden to others

Feeling:

  • Empty, hopeless, trapped, or having no reason to live

  • Extremely sad, more anxious, agitated, or full of rage

  • Unbearable emotional or physical pain

Changing behavior, such as:

  • Making a plan or researching ways to die

  • Withdrawing from friends, saying goodbye, giving away important items, or making a will

  • Taking dangerous risks such as driving extremely fast

  • Displaying extreme mood swings

  • Eating or sleeping more or less

  • Using drugs or alcohol more often


According to Psychology Today:


Suicidal intentions aren’t always obvious to the untrained eye, especially among those who want to keep them hidden. However, there are many outward signs that someone is thinking of suicide. Becoming familiar with common signs, especially subtler ones, can help someone identify a loved one who may be at risk.

  • Talks about feeling hopeless, worthless, “trapped,” or like he has no reason to keep living

  • Makes a will, gives away personal possessions, or tries to “get her affairs in order”

  • Searches for means to harm himself, such as how to buy a gun or access dangerous medications

  • Sleeps too little or too much

  • Eats too little or too much

  • Shows signs of despair or has significant mood swings

  • Acts agitated, anxious, or aggressive

  • Avoids other people, including loved ones; spends more time than usual alone

  • Behaves recklessly

  • Drinks alcohol or uses drugs excessively

  • Has experienced a severe life stressor recently, such as the death of a spouse, the loss of a job, or a traumatic event

  • Has attempted suicide or demonstrated suicidal behavior in the past


If these warning signs apply to you or someone you know, get help as soon as possible, particularly if the behavior is new or has increased recently.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline Call or text 988 Chat at 988lifeline.org

Crisis Text Line Text “HELLO” to 741741


Please explore the following websites. You may save someone's life, maybe your own.

NIMH » Warning Signs of Suicide (nih.gov)

Suicide Data and Statistics | Suicide | CDC

The Myths and Warning Signs of Suicide | Psychology Today

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