As a nursing student at Youngstown State University and in my final year, I have cared for a wide variety of patients, but none affected me more than a beautiful young woman who took her own life. As she lay there on life support I wondered what could’ve driven her to the point where she felt as though she had to find a permanent way out. This brought me back to a time in my own life when I looked at my own brother laying just rooms away in the same hospital, wondering the same thing as I looked down at him as he lay in a coma after his attempt at taking his own life.
Though males are four times more likely than females to die by suicide, this was not the case in this instance. The difference between the two scenarios was supportive social and family network, or lack thereof. I noticed as I cared for this young woman that the room was silent except for the numerous machines keeping her alive. Was there not anyone that cared enough to mourn her? Did she reach out to someone, a friend, a family member or a health professional? Were there warning signs?
Between 50 percent and 75 percent of people who attempt or commit suicide talk about their suicidal thoughts, feelings and plans before the act, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Many suicidal people struggle intensely with wanting to live or die, and it’s important to guide them toward help. It is important to realize that talking to a person about their suicidal thoughts does not make them more likely to commit the act, the thoughts are already there. We need to let them know we are concerned, and we want to get them the treatment they need. They are in terrible pain and need to know that the pain will pass.
My brother survived with the help of family, friends and mental health professionals. Fortunately, our family realized the importance of love, support and forgiveness in time to save his life.
Riley Jones, YSU Nursing Student