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Suicide: Watch out for the signs

Family and friends must monitor behavioural patterns of people with suicidal tendencies, Psychologists say

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  • Dr Saliha AfridiImage Credit: Gulf News Archives
02 Gulf News

Dubai: There are warning signs for recognising suicidal tendencies, say clinical psychologists at The Lighthouse Arabia, a community mental health clinic that provides non-profit grief support services.

Dr Saliha Afridi, Clinical Psychologist and Director of the clinic, told Gulf News, "Not everyone who says they are considering suicide will do so, but all threats should be considered seriously. Intense or long-lasting sadness or moodiness can be symptoms of depression — a major risk factor for suicide. Recent life crisis or trauma such as a break up, divorce, diagnosis of a major illness or serious financial problems can trigger a suicide attempt."

“Reckless driving, drinking excessive alcohol, and/or taking drugs may indicate that the person no longer values his life. Also a person considering suicide will begin to make preparations like put his financials in order and/or give away personal possessions.
-Dr Saliha Afridi, Clinical Psychologist
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She said that people should try to recognise uncharacteristic and potentially risky behaviours. "Reckless driving, drinking excessive alcohol, and/or taking drugs may indicate that the person no longer values his life. Also a person considering suicide will begin to make preparations like put his financials in order and/or give away personal possessions."

On dealing with people with suicidal tendencies, Dr Afridi said, "Don't be afraid to ask tough questions like, ‘Are you thinking about dying?', ‘Are you thinking about suicide?', ‘How would you do it?', ‘When would you do it?' The next step is listen. Don't offer to solve his problems, instead listen and then persuade him to get help."

She added, "If the situation seems more critical, and the person refuses help, refer to a mental health professional and involve the family members. Don't be afraid of breaking their confidence if it means saving their life."

Common causes

Fellow Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Director, Dr Tara Wyne, spoke to Gulf News about the common causes of suicides. "The factors that make someone more vulnerable include genetics and family history [traumatic experience during childhood such as a bereavement]; mental health; lifestyle — people who misuse alcohol and drugs are at increased risk of suicidal thoughts; and poor job security and/or low levels of job satisfaction or not having a job. People who are socially isolated and have few close relationships with others have a higher risk of dying by suicide as well."

Further Dr Wyne said, "Clients with ongoing mental health problems such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia often have suicidal intentions." However she said suicidal tendencies are not limited to these people.

"Anybody who gets to the limit of what he can emotionally endure and becomes highly distressed, can be triggered by factors such as extreme stress, adverse life circumstances, painful thoughts and feelings, poor coping mechanisms, lack of adequate support, traumatic life events, and problems in relationships with significant others."

Dr Wyne spoke about the available support for those seeking help in the UAE. "There are a number of mental health professionals in this country — clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and inpatient psychiatric units at hospitals like Al Rashid Hospital and other government hospitals across the UAE that can assess the risk, provide support and help you to make decisions about what help you need."

To help people we recognise as suicidal, her advice is to be compassionate and understanding about the pain these people may be experiencing. "It is really critical for us to be supportive and helpful, she told Gulf News. "Families and friends may be frustrated and distressed by the actions of the person who self-harms. They have to involve the appropriate professionals, psychologists, psychiatrists and hospital settings to manage this risk of self-harm."

Dr Wyne had advice for those with suicidal intentions. She said, "If we find ourselves feeling suicidal, we may have very little resources to fight the feelings. The most important thing we can do is not be impulsive and try to think beyond the feelings we have now. Consider any protective factors like loved ones. Try to find some space to involve someone, be it friend, family or professional. They will be able to think more clearly than you and may protect you from harm by getting the appropriate help."


Grim statistics

  • 147: suicide cases among Indians in Dubai in 2008
  • 113: suicide cases among Indians in Dubai in 2009
  • 110: suicide cases among Indians in Dubai in 2010

Higher rate among expatriates

In previous reports, it was stated that in 2011, the Consul General of India in Dubai, Sanjay Verma, released suicide statistics for the past three years among Indians in Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain. Abu Dhabi was not included.

Verma said that in 2008 there were 1,420 deaths among Indians, 147 were suicides. In 2009 there were 1,285 deaths of which 113 were suicides and in 2010, 1,114 Indians died, of which 110 took their own lives. Researchers from UAE University studied suicide rates in the national and expatriate population in Dubai in 2011. They analysed suicides in Dubai from 2003 to 2009 using aggregated socio-demographic data of suicide victims.

Suicide rates per 100,000 population were calculated. Suicide rate among expatriates (6.3/100,000) was seven times higher than the rate among the nationals (0.9/100,000). In both groups, male suicide rate was more than three times higher than the female rate.

Approximately three out of four expatriate suicides were committed by Indians.

The majority of suicide victims were male, older than 30 years, expatriate, single and employed, with an education of secondary school level and below.

— Source: Dr Tara Wyne, Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Director




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Latest Comment

suicide. this word is heard and discussed a lot nowadays,but has someone ever cared to find the causes behind someone's suicide? you get to live once, but if someone's life becomes bad and he/she has no companion to help what the individual must do? people are so busy they hardly have time for one another. peolple socialise, but through facebook. facebook will not give a shoulder to a friend to cry on. to sooth someone in pain we, as an individual, should keep our eyes open to see if some one is in pain. no one will reveal, but if you have a friend who needs you, you should go and help. expat suicidal rate is increasing because back home we live in joint family. here nuclues families are there. you become depressed no one to talk to. i think the best therapy is the "smile' pass on a good smile. it might make you look dumb, but might make some one smile and save a life.


28 January 2012 15:25jump to comments