Today, September 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day which ends Suicide Prevention Week. Here on MyRACentral, we often discuss the pain which comes with RA, but we don’t often discuss depression which is a common comorbidity.
In preparation for this post, I read lots of websites and articles regarding suicide. There is much information available, but all of that doesn’t do any good if the right people don’t get that information at the right time. Each person in our society needs to become aware of the subtle signals and learn how to best help the person who might be having suicidal thoughts.
Fortunately, some of our writers here at HealthCentral have already tackled the subject from different approaches. So rather than repeat what they’ve said, I’d like for us to talk more personally on the subject. Are you up for it?
Vicki Bridges - Suicide and Multiple Sclerosis
Merely Me - How to Prevent Suicide
Nancy Harris Bonk - Migraine and Suicide Prevention
Before we begin, let’s review what the warning signs of suicide are. The American Association of Suicidology, sponsors of Suicide Prevention Week, have reduced the most common symptoms of suicide into an easy-to-remember mnemonic. IS PATH WARM?
(I) Ideation, (S) Substance Abuse
(P) Purposelessness, (A) Anxiety, (T) Trapped, (H) Hopelessness
(W) Withdrawal, (A) Anger, (R) Recklessness, (M) Mood Changes
Here’s another way of thinking of these signs and symptoms.
• Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use
• No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
• Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
• Feeling trapped - like there’s no way out
• Withdrawal from friends, family and society
• Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
• Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
• Dramatic mood changes.
Suicide.org lists additional warning signs of suicide. If you experience any of the thoughts or behaviors listed above, please seek help. Reach out. Call someone. Do not act upon an impulse which cannot be retracted.
Call a hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) in the US; 08457 90 90 90 in the United Kingdom; 1850 60 90 90 in Ireland; or find your local helpline anywhere in the world at befrienders.org.
So how does suicide relate to living with rheumatoid arthritis?
We experience chronic pain at a higher rate than the general public. We experience depression at a higher rate than the general public. When the disease is active and chips away at our quality of life, we can begin to feel hopeless or anxious about the future. Living with a chronic progressive, painful, and debilitating disease is not easy.