A Suicide: No Warning Of Her Decision To End Her Life
To the casual observer, Kaitlin seemed to be dealing well with the death of her boyfriend. What most people didn't know was that Kaitlin, whose name has been changed to protect her anonymity, was quite an actress. The void and her depression were eating away at her, but she found that a bright smile and an occasional "I'm fine" deterred the suspicious from prying. Her excessive loss of weight stirred some uneasy jokes among her friends, but not knowing what to do, they hoped that it was just a phase and would pass.
It didn't. The walls of reasoning and sanity inside Kaitlin gradually deteriorated and came tumbling down with an eerie echo of finality nine months after her boyfriend's death.
Kaitlin, like many other suicide victims, gave little actual forewarning of her decision to end her life. While in many cases, family members and friends may notice a change in behavior, the hints a victim gives—long bouts of withdrawal and depression and offhand remarks about suicide—often become obvious only after it is too late.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that every year, about 5,000 young people fall to the feelings of intense despair and pain and commit suicide. That's about 5.5 of every 100,000 people under age 25. Young white males have the highest suicide rate, but the percentage of young black males is rising precipitously. Many more teens try to kill themselves. Though these figures are startling, what is even more shocking is that you may know someone who is considering this desperate way out.
What To Look For
How would you know? Anyone who has made a previous suicide attempt is considered a high risk to try again. Anyone who talks about suicide or death should be taken seriously, especially if an event like the death of Kaitlin's boyfriend may be prompting this talk.
Other signs to look for are: sudden changes in personality or mood, sudden happiness immediately after a long bout of severe depression; extreme changes in eating and sleeping; withdrawal from friends and activities or indifference to drifting friendships; drug abuse; and giving away prized possessions.
Caring about a severely depressed person can change his or her outlook on life. Remember that a suicide attempt is not an attempt to end life, but to end pain. If a person knows that someone cares about him and wants him to live, he may see hope in what he once thought was a bleak future.
Seek help from counselors, teachers or parents. There are risks you take with each choice you make. Your friend may become angry that you took matters into your own hands and consulted an adult, but time heals and you'll have the rest of your lives to make up. If not, you'll have the rest of your life to feel overwhelming guilt at not taking that small risk to save a friend.
Contributed by Seo Hee Koh
Last Updated: 23 June 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD