Could the champion’s death been prevented? Arturo Gatti, 37 year-old Canadian boxer was found dead by his wife, 23 year-old Amanda Rodrigues in their two-level apartment rental in Porto de Galinhas, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The cause of death was announced to be suicide after investigations concluded that Gatti had committed suicide by hanging himself with a handbag strap from a staircase column more than seven feet off the ground on the Friday of July 11th. Gatti’s wife, once suspected of killing the former champion, has been released from jail.  Arturo’s family and friends confirmed that the couple was having problems but they don’t understand why Arturo would commit such an act.

Could Arturo’s death been prevented?  The Journal of the American Medical Association has reported that 90% of all suicides occur during or following a depressive episode, such as an argument, a lost relationship, or financial problems. Also people who have a dependence on alcohol or drugs in addition to being depressed are at greater risk for suicide. And four times more men than women kill themselves; but three times more women than men attempt suicide.

What we need to understand is that suicide is preventable.  Most suicidal people desperately want to live; they are just unable to see alternatives to their problems.  Most suicidal people give definite warning signs of their suicidal intentions, but others are often unaware of the significance of these warnings or unsure what to do with them.

Here are some of the warning signs. A suicidal person may:

  • Talk about suicide, death, and/or no reason to live.
  • Withdraw from friends and/or social activities.
  • Have a recent severe loss such as relationship, or threat of a significant loss.
  • Have attempted suicide before.
  • Take unnecessary risks; be reckless, and/or impulsive.
  • Increase their use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Express a sense of hopelessness.
  • Be faced with a situation of humiliation or failure.
  • Have a history of violence or hostility.

Once you have seen the signs, here are some tips on how you can help someone who is threatening suicide.

  • BE DIRECT:  Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
  • BE WILLING TO LISTEN:  Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
  • BE NON-JUDGEMENTAL:  Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
  • GET INVOLVED:  Be available.  Show interest in support.
  • OFFER HOPE:  Other alternatives are available.

And remember that you are not alone. If you have a friend or family member who is having suicidal thoughts, you can seek out help at:

  • A community mental health agency
  • A professional mental health counselor or psychologist
  • A suicide prevention/crisis intervention center
  • A family physician
  • A religious/spiritual leader

All of us will have to face difficult moments and disappointments at some point in our lives. Every single problem has a beginning, middle and an end, therefore we need to remember that this too shall pass and we should use every adversity as a learning experience that will allow us to grow. You are not alone; if you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, talk to someone and seek help.

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Marta Rocha

About the Author: Marta Rocha is a Mental Health Counselor. Marta is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and English. Marta Rocha is specialized in the areas of Marriage Counseling, Family Issues, Stress Management, Leadership Training, Anxiety, Depression, Sports Psychology, Grief, and Substance Abuse & Addictions. Marta Rocha has 12 years of experience in sales & marketing, advertising, promotions, management, and professional development. Her professional affiliations are with the American Counseling Association, and the American Association of Christian Counselors.

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