Cheslie was a 30-year-old woman who not only distinguished herself for her beauty, but also for her academic and professional success. After finishing her law studies, she began her career as a lawyer dedicated to fighting for social justice. Later, she was recognized as Miss United States and began her work as a television correspondent.

According to information provided by newspapers and networks, Cheslie was greatly valued by her family, friends and co-workers. She was valued for her dedication to her profession as a lawyer, for her determination to change the situation of many people, as well as for the love she was able to transmit to those around her.

The reasons for her decision were not expressed by her before the event. Why did a woman so highly appreciated for her talent and intelligence, with such a promising future ahead of her, decide to take her own life?

A few days after the event, her mother revealed that Cheslie had been dealing with high-functioning depression. This is one of the most difficult forms of depression to diagnose, because people who suffer from it are able to continue with their habits, routines, occupations and projects, yet have great difficulty experiencing excitement, joy and satisfaction. Despite the external recognition they receive, they feel insufficient and worthless, and even lose the meaning of their lives.

Therefore, even though it is sometimes extremely difficult to realize that someone is going through such a fragile moment, it is very useful to know the signs that can help us to perceive and respond to an urgent need for help from a family member, friend or partner.

Signs of suicide risk

The people around Cheslie were unable to detect the risk the young woman was facing. This may have been because the most obvious and disturbing warning signs of suicide are verbal. When these are absent, it can be much more complicated to see the risk. Some comments such as «I can’t go on any longer,» «I don’t care about anything,» or even «I’m thinking of ending it all» should be taken very seriously, especially when they are consistently expressed over time.

On other occasions, the signs are less striking. Sometimes, they are difficult to recognize because they are non-verbal and less explicit signals. On the one hand, there are often observable emotional states, such as being extremely apathetic, hopeless, sad, angry or agitated. On the other hand, there are often drastic behavioral changes, such as withdrawing from friends and family, giving major gifts, eating or sleeping too much or too little, consuming alcohol or drugs more frequently, showing exaggerated mood fluctuations, or putting oneself in risky situations such as speeding.

It is very difficult to list all the possible signs, but three key components have been identified that indicate the possible presence of thoughts of suicide. First, emotional pain. Psychological suffering, which can have different causes, is often what people want to put an end to. Secondly, hopelessness, the belief that nothing can get better. Finally, disconnection from the world, from one’s job, hobbies, friendships and family.

What to do when someone is facing the risk?

When a person is at risk of suicide, they may feel that this is the only solution to their situation. It is very important to remind these people that they are not alone, that there are alternatives, solutions and reasons to stay in the world. To do this, it is essential to break the stigma surrounding suicide and address it directly.

It is necessary for family members and close friends to listen to the thoughts and emotions that the person at risk, so that they can offer real support that comes from a knowledge of the cause of the distress. Staying close to this person will help him or her feel accompanied and understood. An indispensable resource for people who find themselves in this extreme situation is to seek the help of a mental health professional. Psychologists and psychiatrists have the knowledge and professional tools to guide patients to find answers and alternative paths. In the clinic, they can feel listened to, actively helped and involved in their own process of improvement.

Finally, in Spain there is an anonymous, confidential, free telephone number, staffed by specialized professionals, to assist all people with suicidal thoughts, ideations or risk of suicidal behavior (this number is 024). The main objective of this line is to provide help in times of crisis and to put these people in contact with specialized entities. But also, to convey a message to the entire population: if at any time you find yourself in this situation, remember that you are not alone, ask for help, because there are people willing to help you.

Emma Chancellor Díez
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Emma Chancellor Díez
Adults and adolescents
Languages: English and Spanish
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