Prolonged periods of extreme stress, emotional upset such as abuse, poverty, terrible living conditions, severe pain, poor health, serious injury and/or the real or perceived perception of permanent disability may cause injured workers to feel utterly helpless, and suicidal for a key element in suicidal behaviour is the feeling of helplessness.
Seriously injured workers may feel hopeless and suicidal
A key element in suicidal behaviour or idealisation is the feeling of helplessness, which arises from prolonged periods of [extreme stress] or emotional upset.
For many seriously or ill injured workers this may include constant abuse from the employer or the workcover insurer [case manager], constant denials for even the most basic of medical and like care/services; poverty [including for example drastically decreased wages or cut of weekly payments], terrible living conditions [some live in caravans], poor general health [i.e. lack of sleep, poor diet, lack of exercise] the serious injury itself, or even the real or perception of permanent disability.
It has been reported in the literature that statistically speaking , 90% of the people who commit suicide have a mental or substance abuse disorder (or both), and more than half are seriously or clinically depressed. Although most depressed people are not suicidal, most suicidal people are depressed.
Interestingly it is also reported that about 25% of suicidal individuals are intoxicated. Whilst alcohol in itself does not cause suicide, it actually lowers self-control and increases impulsive behaviour. Someone with a mental disorder (such as depression) who also drinks is at increased risk of suicide.
When an injured worker also feels hopelessness and in addition suffers from a mental injury (i.e. depression) things can get dangerous and the feeling of hopelessness is a dangerous warning sign, which needs to be taken very seriously.
For the hopeless injured worker, sometimes death by suicide is seen as an improvement over living with unrelieved illness or pain.
Seriously ill or injured workers often express hopelessness in various statements hey make, such as:
- Things will never get better
- There are no solutions to my problems
- I will never get over what happened
- I don’t see or I can’t see things ever improving
- There is no point in trying anymore
- I just want to give up
- I feel so hopeless
- There is no hope for me
- What do I have to look forward to?
- The future is empty for me
- I only see things getting worse in the future
- I will never get back to the way I was
- There is nothing that I can do to make things better
Any injured worker expressing feelings of hopelessness and who may also be suffering from depression or a similar condition (i.e. anxiety, PTSD) needs to reach out immediately and needs not to be embarrassed, ashamed for doing so. Letting the feeling of hopelessness (and/or helplessness) fester can lead to devastating outcomes. It’s no fun to feel hopeless or helpless and to sink further into a “dark hole”, only to lose control sooner or later. Keeping these feelings to yourself and pretending you are “strong” or that they’ll “pass” more than often, simply doesn’t work – the next stressor or the one after that will simply make you explode and push you over the edge.
[post dictated and entered on behalf of WCV]