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Talk about your worries to prevent suicide — Clinical Psychologist

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BY: Eugenia Asare Tandoh

Talk to a trusted person such as your parents, a relative or a teacher if you feel like harming yourself or ending your life.

This is the advice a Clinical Psychologist, Mr Abishai Anlimah, is giving to young people who are unable to cope with certain situations in their lives and think that committing suicide is the only solution.

In an interview  in Accra last Friday, Mr Anlimah said the negative feelings might come about as a result of having a low self-esteem,  believed that no one cared about them or were depressed (a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how one feels, the way they think and how they act).

“Other negative feelings that may trigger young people to take their own lives or harm themselves can be caused by drug abuse  or alcohol and experiencing stressful events, such as an unwanted pregnancy, trouble with the law, or not meeting high parental expectations”, he added.

Mr Anlimah said sometimes “you may think that  your problem is so overwhelming that no one can help you but when you muster the courage to talk to someone, you would realise that the problem you thought was so huge was actually a small one that is easy to solve”.

He said it could be hard to open up about how one was feeling, especially when  feeling depressed, ashamed, or worthless but it was important to remember that many people struggled with such feelings at one time or another and it didn’t mean that  they were weak or no good.

The psychologist asked people who got uncontrollable feelings of taking their lives when alone to wait for 24 hours before taking any action because that  could give them time to think through things  carefully and help them distance themselves from the  worrying  strong emotions.

“During this 24-hour period, try to talk to someone, anyone you are comfortable with to seek help”, Mr Abishai pointed out.

He asked persons who got such uncontrollable feeings to ensure they were never alone because that could create the feeling that the problem could not be solved, “so  stay in public places, be with friends or family members”.

Mr Anlimah said the warning signs of a suicidal adolescent were noticeable changes in eating or sleeping habits,  unexplained or unusually severe, violent, or rebellious behaviour, withdrawal from family or friends, sexual promiscuity, truancy, vandalism and drastic personality change.

“Other symptoms may be, agitation, restlessness, distress, or panicky behaviour, talking or writing about committing suicide even jokingly, giving away prized or valuable possessions and performing badly in school so I urge all to look out for these signs in their children, friends and students”, the psychologist advised.

Mr Anlimah also advised parents to offer help and listen to their children because some of the signs might be the teen’s way of crying out for help.

He said parents should  offer support, be understanding and compassionate and talk about the feelings and the behaviours they saw which caused them  to be concerned.

“You don’t need to solve the problem or give advice. Sometimes just caring, listening and being non judgemental, gives all the understanding necessary and never ever ignore suicide notes but seek professional help”, he added.

The psychologist also asked parents to remove lethal weapons such as guns from their homes and be aware of the location of kitchen utensils, such as knives and ropes which could be used to commit suicide.

He added that medications should also be kept out of the reach of children.