Looking at suicide from another direction: I am saddened by the loss of Robin Williams but heartened by the fact that most of the postings on Facebook are educating us about suicide, depression and mental health issues in general. It is also important to know that taking a medication or changing a prescription can also lead to suicide, even in someone who isn’t depressed.
Modern medicine is wonderful, the drugs we are prescribed can cure a host of ills, prolong and improve our lives. I am not advocating doing without medications but instead being aware of the signs that a medication is causing problems. If you watch television or read magazines then you have been exposed to the warnings for just about every medication. But the warnings on the ads and the on the patient pamphlets are pretty darn vague. You are warned to contact the doctor if the patient shows signs of suicidal thoughts. The bottom line is that those signs can be different than the common symptoms of suicidal thoughts.
If someone you love has started a new medication and shows any changes in personality or behavior, it is reason for you to call the physician. These changes are particularly worrisome in the first 14 days of taking a new medication. It might be paranoia, it might be increased fear, anxiety, or confusion. Obsession, anger, and changes in routine are other red flags. Be particularly worried if your loved one seems to lose the ability to describe their feelings or express themselves. When suicidal thoughts start creeping in, those thoughts are so foreign to the person that he or she might not have vocabulary to express what is happening. Do not worry about going behind the person’s back. Do not assume it can wait until the next appointment or the next day. Just call the doctor and get the help that is needed. Please do not assume that the person you love can make choices for themselves or explain what is happening to them. It’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to fight for the health of the people you love.