People diagnosed with MS are twice as likely to commit suicide then the general population, with in 2 years post stroke the risk is also twice as high, ALS, Dementia and other neurological diseases. Some have a plan, some don’t, there is plenty of help out in the medical community, but getting the patient to admit they are depressed is the first hurdle, Then the Doctors want to medicate and medicate you until you are no longer you. Some of the Antidepressants actually cause you to want to commit suicide, I know from experience myself, a medication given to me called Savella made me want to commit suicide, but at least I could recognize something was wrong and I called my Doctor right away, only with the response of well we have a entire list to try so don’t get discouraged.
There are a few red flags, someone talking about suicide or actually attempting suicide but their is no real profile and sometimes asking questions to the patient doesn’t help because they think there fine or won’t admit their feeling suicidal. Family and friends should be specially concerned if there loved one has a neurological disorder. If a patient is depressed and suffering from anxiety they are even at a higher risk. If you add substance abuse or drug use and it increases even more.
When a patient starts a new prescription, this is usually the time to watch them closely, It may motivate them to do things they normally wouldn’t do. Doctors should not only treat the depression but understand the neurological disease the patient has. The two go together and the key is knowledge. This type of patient should be monitored by the Doctor more closely.
Isolation is a very big contributor to depression and suicidal tendency’s. Impulse control- neurological diseases can cause patients to loose their impulse control. This can also add to the risk factor of suicide. Frontal lobe dysfunction adds to the lack of impulse control. The Frontal lobe is considered to be the CEO of the brain.
Certain Hospitals and come up with Risk score assessment forms for different neurological conditions.
Getting the patient to see a trained psychiatrist that actually understands your disease, If your friend or loved one speaks of suicide bring them to the Emergency Room or call 911.
As family and friends it’s important to try to lead this patient to job, their dog, grandchildren-something to distract from the darkness they are living in. Stay close, try to get the patient out into socializing and out of the house. You need to recognize their frustrations, Don’t just say ” Don’t do that, You have so much to live for”. You must acknowledge their feelings and thoughts, make them your safe place to come to talk to about their feelings, that’s how you will know what’s really going on. Building trust with out judgement. Take the conversation of suicide seriously, encourage engagement, patients like myself feel like our lives have been taken away from us, we no longer serve a purpose but now are a burden, Help them get involved in organizations, support groups, non profits so they can feel good about them selves. Keep guns out of the house period. If a firearm is used the death rate is 85%, Pills, and cutting themselves are less likely to work.
Talk to the patient if guns are to be removed explaining it’s because they love you. Not as a punishment and if you feel the patient is in imminent danger, call 911.
Suicide has a stigma, that needs to be addressed, knowledge spread and shared. Below you find information on Suicide.
suicidology.org 202-237-2280 This is the American Association that can help families that are dealing with a family member that committed suicide or someone who has survived suicide. there support programs are the following: suicidology.org/suicide-survivors/sos-directory.
American foundation for suicide prevention: afsp.org 1800-273-talk. 24 hour hotline with trained personal as well as books, forums, you can also get names of support groups in your area.
Suicide Awareness voices of education (SAVE) save.org,9529467998, they have booklets and other resources for survivors of suicide loss and a searchable data base for support groups.