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How to Help Someone who is Suicidal and Save a Life
What to do if someone you know says they’re going to commit suicide
What to do when someone is suicidal
Teenagers: When someone you know is suicidal
5 To-Do's When Someone Says "I'm Suicidal"
What to do and say when someone wants to commit suicide
10 Things to Say to a Suicidal Person
My Friend Is Talking About Suicide. What Should I Do?

How to Help Someone who is Suicidal and Save a Life


A suicidal person may not ask for help, but that doesn’t mean that help isn’t wanted. People who take their lives don’t want to die—they just want to stop hurting. Suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs and taking them seriously. If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, you might be afraid to bring up the subject. But talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life.

If you’re thinking about suicide, please read Are You Feeling Suicidal? or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text "SOS" to 741741 in the U.S.! To find a suicide helpline outside the U.S., visit IASP or Suicide.org.

Understanding suicide

The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 1 million people die each year from suicide. What drives so many individuals to take their own lives? To those who are not in the grips of suicidal depression and despair, it’s difficult to understand what drives so many individuals to take their own lives. But a suicidal person is in so much pain that he or she can see no other option.

Suicide is a desperate attempt to escape suffering that has become unbearable. Blinded by feelings of self-loathing, hopelessness, and isolation, a suicidal person can’t see any way of finding relief except through death. But despite their desire for the pain to stop, most suicidal people are deeply conflicted about ending their own lives. They wish there was an alternative to suicide, but they just can’t see one.

Common misconceptions about suicide

Myth: People who talk about suicide won’t really do it.

Fact: Almost everyone who attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Don’t ignore even indirect references to death or suicide. Statements like “You’ll be sorry when I’m gone,” “I can’t see any way out,”—no matter how casually or jokingly said—may indicate serious suicidal feelings.

Myth: Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy.

Fact: Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They are upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing, but extreme distress and emotional pain are not necessarily signs of mental illness.

Myth: If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop them.

Fact: Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people do not want death; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever.

Myth: People who die by suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help.

Fact: Studies of suicide victims have shown that more than half had sought medical help in the six months prior to their deaths.

Myth: Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.

Fact: You don’t give a suicidal person morbid ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true—bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.

Source: SAVE – Suicide Awareness Voices of Education

Warning signs of suicide

Take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously. It’s not just a warning sign that the person is thinking about suicide—it’s a cry for help.

Most suicidal individuals give warning signs or signals of their intentions. The best way to prevent suicide is to recognize these warning signs and know how to respond if you spot them. If you believe that a friend or family member is suicidal, you can play a role in suicide prevention by pointing out the alternatives, showing that you care, and getting a doctor or psychologist involved.

Major warning signs for suicide include talking about killing or harming oneself, talking or writing a lot about death or dying, and seeking out things that could be used in a suicide attempt, such as weapons and drugs. These signals are even more dangerous if the person has a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder, suffers from alcohol dependence, has previously attempted suicide, or has a family history of suicide.

A more subtle but equally dangerous warning sign of suicide is hopelessness. Studies have found that hopelessness is a strong predictor of suicide. People who feel hopeless may talk about “unbearable” feelings, predict a bleak future, and state that they have nothing to look forward to.

Other warning signs that point to a suicidal mind frame include dramatic mood swings or sudden personality changes, such as switching from outgoing to withdrawn or well-behaved to rebellious. A suicidal person may also lose interest in day-to-day activities, neglect his or her appearance, and show big changes in eating or sleeping habits.

Suicide warning signs include:

Talking about suicide – Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm, such as “I wish I hadn’t been born,” “If I see you again…” and “I’d be better off dead.”

Seeking out lethal means – Seeking access to guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.

Preoccupation with death – Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.

No hope for the future – Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped (“There’s no way out”). Belief that things will never get better or change.

Self-loathing, self-hatred – Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden (“Everyone would be better off without me”).

Getting affairs in order – Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.

Saying goodbye – Unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again.

Withdrawing from others – Withdrawing from friends and family. Increasing social isolation. Desire to be left alone.

Self-destructive behavior – Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks as if they have a “death wish.”

Sudden sense of calm – A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to attempt suicide.

Suicide prevention tip 1: Speak up if you’re worried

If you spot the warning signs of suicide in someone you care about, you may wonder if it’s a good idea to say anything. What if you’re wrong? What if the person gets angry? In such situations, it’s natural to feel uncomfortable or afraid. But anyone who talks about suicide or shows other warning signs needs immediate help—the sooner the better.

Talking to a friend or family member about their suicidal thoughts and feelings can be extremely difficult for anyone. But if you’re unsure whether someone is suicidal, the best way to find out is to ask. You can’t make a person suicidal by showing that you care. In fact, giving a suicidal person the opportunity to express his or her feelings can provide relief from loneliness and pent-up negative feelings, and may prevent a suicide attempt.

Ways to start a conversation about suicide:

“I have been feeling concerned about you lately.”

“Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.”

“I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.”

Questions you can ask:

“When did you begin feeling like this?”

“Did something happen to make you start feeling this way?”

“How can I best support you right now?”

“Have you thought about getting help?”

What you can say that helps:

“You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.”

“You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.”

“I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.”

“When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold off for just one more day, hour, minute—whatever you can manage.”

When talking to a suicidal person

Do:

Be yourself. Let the person know you care, that he/she is not alone. The right words are often unimportant. If you are concerned, your voice and manner will show it.

Listen. Let the suicidal person unload despair, vent anger. No matter how negative the conversation seems, the fact that it is taking place is a positive sign.

Be sympathetic, non-judgmental, patient, calm, accepting. Your friend or family member is doing the right thing by talking about his/her feelings.

Offer hope. Reassure the person that help is available and that the suicidal feelings are temporary. Let the person know that his or her life is important to you.

Take the person seriously. If the person says things like, “I’m so depressed, I can’t go on,” ask the question: “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” You are not putting ideas in their head; you are showing that you are concerned, that you take them seriously, and that it’s OK for them to share their pain with you.

But don’t:

Argue with the suicidal person. Avoid saying things like: “You have so much to live for,” “Your suicide will hurt your family,” or “Look on the bright side.”

Act shocked, lecture on the value of life, or say that suicide is wrong.

Promise confidentiality. Refuse to be sworn to secrecy. A life is at stake and you may need to speak to a mental health professional in order to keep the suicidal person safe. If you promise to keep your discussions secret, you may have to break your word.

Offer ways to fix their problems, or give advice, or make them feel like they have to justify their suicidal feelings. It is not about how bad the problem is, but how badly it’s hurting your friend or loved one.

Blame yourself. You can’t “fix” someone’s depression. Your loved one’s happiness, or lack thereof, is not your responsibility.

Source: Metanoia.org

Tip 2: Respond quickly in a crisis

If a friend or family member tells you that he or she is thinking about death or suicide, it’s important to evaluate the immediate danger the person is in. Those at the highest risk for committing suicide in the near future have a specific suicide PLAN, the MEANS to carry out the plan, a TIME SET for doing it, and an INTENTION to do it.

The following questions can help you assess the immediate risk for suicide:

  • Do you have a suicide plan? (PLAN)
  • Do you have what you need to carry out your plan (pills, gun, etc.)? (MEANS)
  • Do you know when you would do it? (TIME SET)
  • Do you intend to take your own life? (INTENTION)

Level of Suicide Risk

Low – Some suicidal thoughts. No suicide plan. Says he or she won’t attempt suicide.

Moderate – Suicidal thoughts. Vague plan that isn’t very lethal. Says he or she won’t attempt suicide.

High – Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she won’t attempt suicide.

Severe – Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she will attempt suicide.

If a suicide attempt seems imminent, call a local crisis center, dial 911, or take the person to an emergency room. Remove guns, drugs, knives, and other potentially lethal objects from the vicinity but do not, under any circumstances, leave a suicidal person alone.

Tip 3: Offer help and support

If a friend or family member is suicidal, the best way to help is by offering an empathetic, listening ear. Let your loved one know that he or she is not alone and that you care. Don’t take responsibility, however, for healing your loved one. You can offer support, but you can’t make a suicidal person get better. He or she has to make a personal commitment to recovery.

It takes a lot of courage to help someone who is suicidal. Witnessing a loved one dealing with thoughts about ending his or her own life can stir up many difficult emotions. As you’re helping a suicidal person, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Find someone that you trust—a friend, family member, clergyman, or counselor—to talk to about your feelings and get support of your own.

To help a suicidal person:

Get professional help. Do everything in your power to get a suicidal person the help he or she needs. Call a crisis line for advice and referrals. Encourage the person to see a mental health professional, help locate a treatment facility, or take them to a doctor’s appointment.

Follow-up on treatment. If the doctor prescribes medication, make sure your friend or loved one takes it as directed. Be aware of possible side effects and be sure to notify the physician if the person seems to be getting worse. It often takes time and persistence to find the medication or therapy that’s right for a particular person.

Be proactive. Those contemplating suicide often don’t believe they can be helped, so you may have to be more proactive at offering assistance. Saying, “Call me if you need anything” is too vague. Don’t wait for the person to call you or even to return your calls. Drop by, call again, invite the person out.

Encourage positive lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, and getting out in the sun or into nature for at least 30 minutes each day. Exercise is also extremely important as it releases endorphins, relieves stress, and promotes emotional well-being.

Make a safety plan. Help the person develop a set of steps he or she promises to follow during a suicidal crisis. It should identify any triggers that may lead to a suicidal crisis, such as an anniversary of a loss, alcohol, or stress from relationships. Also include contact numbers for the person’s doctor or therapist, as well as friends and family members who will help in an emergency.

Remove potential means of suicide, such as pills, knives, razors, or firearms. If the person is likely to take an overdose, keep medications locked away or give them out only as the person needs them.

Continue your support over the long haul. Even after the immediate suicidal crisis has passed, stay in touch with the person, periodically checking in or dropping by. Your support is vital to ensure your friend or loved one remains on the recovery track.

Risk factors

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, at least 90 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from one or more mental disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or alcoholism. Depression in particular plays a large role in suicide. The difficulty that suicidal people have imagining a solution to their suffering is due in part to the distorted thinking caused by depression.

Common suicide risk factors include:

  • Mental illness, alcoholism or drug abuse
  • Previous suicide attempts, family history of suicide, or history of trauma or abuse
  • Terminal illness or chronic pain, a recent loss or stressful life event
  • Social isolation and loneliness
  • Antidepressants and suicide

For some, depression medication causes an increase—rather than a decrease—in depression and suicidal thoughts and feelings. Because of this risk, the FDA advises that anyone taking antidepressants should be watched for increases in suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Monitoring is especially important if this is the person’s first time on depression medication or if the dose has recently been changed. The risk of suicide is the greatest during the first two months of antidepressant treatment.

Suicide in teens and older adults

In addition to the general risk factors for suicide, both teenagers and older adults are at a higher risk of suicide.

Suicide in teens

Teenage suicide is a serious and growing problem. The teenage years can be emotionally turbulent and stressful. Teenagers face pressures to succeed and fit in. They may struggle with self-esteem issues, self-doubt, and feelings of alienation. For some, this leads to suicide. Depression is also a major risk factor for teen suicide.

Other risk factors for teenage suicide include:

  • Childhood abuse
  • Recent traumatic event
  • Lack of a support network
  • Availability of a gun
  • Hostile social or school environment
  • Exposure to other teen suicides

Warning signs in teens

Additional warning signs that a teen may be considering suicide:

  • Change in eating and sleeping habits
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities
  • Violent or rebellious behavior, running away
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Unusual neglect of personal appearance
  • Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or a decline in the quality of schoolwork
  • Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, often related to emotions, such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
  • Rejecting praise or rewards

Source: American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

Suicide in the elderly

The highest suicide rates of any age group occur among persons aged 65 years and older. One contributing factor is depression in the elderly that is undiagnosed and untreated.

Other risk factors for suicide in the elderly include:

  • Recent death of a loved one, isolation and loneliness
  • Physical illness, disability, or pain
  • Major life changes, such as retirement or loss of independence
  • Loss of sense of purpose

Warning signs in older adults

Additional warning signs that an elderly person may be contemplating suicide:

  • Reading material about death and suicide
  • Disruption of sleep patterns
  • Increased alcohol or prescription drug use
  • Failure to take care of self or follow medical orders
  • Stockpiling medications or sudden interest in firearms
  • Social withdrawal, elaborate good-byes, rush to complete or revise a will

Source: University of Florida

Where to turn for help

Suicide crisis lines in the U.S.:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or IMAlive at 1-800-784-2433.
  • Crisis Text Line: Text "SOS" to 741741
  • The Trevor Project offers suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth at 1-866-488-7386.
  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline offers referrals for substance abuse and mental health treatment at 1-800-662-4357.

Suicide crisis lines worldwide:

  • In the UK and Ireland: Call Samaritans UK at 116 123.
  • In Australia: Call Lifeline Australia at 13 11 14.
  • In Canada: Call Crisis Services Canada at 1-833-456-4566.
  • In other countries: Find a helpline near you at Befrienders Worldwide, IASP, or International Suicide Hotlines

Recommended reading

  • Understanding Suicidal Thinking (PDF) – Preventing suicide attempts and offering help. (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance)
  • Suicide in America: Frequently Asked Questions – Who is at the highest risk and how to help. (National Institute of Mental Health)
  • Risk of Suicide and Preventing Suicide – What friends and family can do to prevent suicide. (The National Alliance on Mental Illness)
  • About Suicide – Warning signs, risk factors, and treatment. (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)
  • What Can I Do to Help Someone Who May be Suicidal? (Metanoia.org)
  • Handling a Call from a Suicidal Person – Tips on what to say and how to help. (Metanoia.org)

Source: www.helpguide.org/articles/suicide-prevention/suicide-prevention.htm/

Suicide: What to do when someone is suicidal


When someone you know appears suicidal, you might not know what to do. Learn warning signs, what questions to ask and how to get help.

When someone says he or she is thinking about suicide, or says things that sound as if the person is considering suicide, it can be very upsetting. You may not be sure what to do to help, whether you should take talk of suicide seriously, or if your intervention might make the situation worse. Taking action is always the best choice. Here's what to do.

Start by asking questions

The first step is to find out whether the person is in danger of acting on suicidal feelings. Be sensitive, but ask direct questions, such as:

How are you coping with what's been happening in your life?

  • Do you ever feel like just giving up?
  • Are you thinking about dying?
  • Are you thinking about hurting yourself?
  • Are you thinking about suicide?
  • Have you ever thought about suicide before, or tried to harm yourself before?
  • Have you thought about how or when you'd do it?
  • Do you have access to weapons or things that can be used as weapons to harm yourself?

Asking about suicidal thoughts or feelings won't push someone into doing something self-destructive. In fact, offering an opportunity to talk about feelings may reduce the risk of acting on suicidal feelings.

Look for warning signs

You can't always tell when a loved one or friend is considering suicide. But here are some common signs:

  • Talking about suicide — for example, making statements such as "I'm going to kill myself," "I wish I were dead" or "I wish I hadn't been born"
  • Getting the means to take your own life, such as buying a gun or stockpiling pills
  • Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone
  • Having mood swings, such as being emotionally high one day and deeply discouraged the next
  • Being preoccupied with death, dying or violence
  • Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • Changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns
  • Doing risky or self-destructive things, such as using drugs or driving recklessly
  • Giving away belongings or getting affairs in order when there is no other logical explanation for doing this
  • Saying goodbye to people as if they won't be seen again
  • Developing personality changes or being severely anxious or agitated, particularly when experiencing some of the warning signs listed above

For immediate help

If someone has attempted suicide:

  • Don't leave the person alone.
  • Call 911 or your local emergency number right away. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room yourself.
  • Try to find out if he or she is under the influence of alcohol or drugs or may have taken an overdose.
  • Tell a family member or friend right away what's going on.

If a friend or loved one talks or behaves in a way that makes you believe he or she might attempt suicide, don't try to handle the situation alone:

  • Get help from a trained professional as quickly as possible. The person may need to be hospitalized until the suicidal crisis has passed.
  • Encourage the person to call a suicide hotline number. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press "1" to reach the Veterans Crisis Line. Or Text "SOS" to the National Crisis Text Line 741741.

Teen suicide prevention

3:47
Teen Suicide Prevention
 

Teenagers: When someone you know is suicidal


If you're a teenager who's concerned that a friend or classmate may be considering suicide, take action.

  • Ask the person directly about his or her feelings, even though it may be awkward. Listen to what the person has to say, and take it seriously. Just talking to someone who really cares can make a big difference.
  • If you've talked to the person and you're still concerned, share your concerns with a teacher, guidance counselor, someone at church, someone at a local youth center or another responsible adult.

It may be hard to tell whether a friend or classmate is suicidal, and you may be afraid of taking action and being wrong. If someone's behavior or talk makes you think he or she might be suicidal, the person may be struggling with some major issues, even if not considering suicide at the moment. You can help the person get to the right resources.

Offer support

If a friend or loved one is thinking about suicide, he or she needs professional help, even if suicide isn't an immediate danger. Here's what you can do.

  • Encourage the person to call a suicide hotline number. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) or text "SOS" to 741741 to reach a trained counselor.
  • Encourage the person to seek treatment. A suicidal or severely depressed person may not have the energy or motivation to find help. If the person doesn't want to consult a doctor or mental health provider, suggest finding help from a support group, crisis center, faith community, teacher or other trusted person. You can offer support and advice — but remember that it's not your job to substitute for a mental health provider.
  • Offer to help the person take steps to get assistance and support. For example, you can research treatment options, make phone calls and review insurance benefit information, or even offer to go with the person to an appointment.
  • Encourage the person to communicate with you. Someone who's suicidal may be tempted to bottle up feelings because he or she feels ashamed, guilty or embarrassed. Be supportive and understanding, and express your opinions without placing blame. Listen attentively and avoid interrupting.
  • Be respectful and acknowledge the person's feelings. Don't try to talk the person out of his or her feelings or express shock. Remember, even though someone who's suicidal isn't thinking logically, the emotions are real. Not respecting how the person feels can shut down communication.
  • Don't be patronizing or judgmental. For example, don't tell someone, "Things could be worse" or "You have everything to live for." Instead, ask questions such as, "What's causing you to feel so bad?" "What would make you feel better?" or "How can I help?"
  • Never promise to keep someone's suicidal feelings a secret. Be understanding, but explain that you may not be able to keep such a promise if you think the person's life is in danger. At that point, you have to get help.
  • Offer reassurance that things can get better. When someone is suicidal, it seems as if nothing will make things better. Reassure the person that with appropriate treatment, he or she can develop other ways to cope and can feel better about life again.
  • Encourage the person to avoid alcohol and drug use. Using drugs or alcohol may seem to ease the painful feelings, but ultimately it makes things worse — it can lead to reckless behavior or feeling more depressed. If the person can't quit on his or her own, offer to help find treatment.
  • Remove potentially dangerous items from the person's home, if possible. If you can, make sure the person doesn't have items around that could be used for suicide — such as knives, razors, guns or drugs. If the person takes a medication that could be used for overdose, encourage him or her to have someone safeguard it and give it as prescribed.

Take all signs of suicidal behavior seriously

If someone says he or she is thinking of suicide or behaves in a way that makes you think the person may be suicidal, don't play it down or ignore the situation. Many people who kill themselves have expressed the intention at some point. You may worry that you're overreacting, but the safety of your friend or loved one is most important. Don't worry about straining your relationship when someone's life is at stake.

You're not responsible for preventing someone from taking his or her own life — but your intervention may help the person see that other options are available to stay safe and get treatment.

1:53
Reach out — Preventing teen suicide

Source: www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/suicide/in-depth/suicide/art-20044707

5 To-Do's When Someone Says "I'm Suicidal"


What to do when you're not sure what to do

The title is a bit misleading. It's not often that someone will come out and say, "I'm suicidal." But, if you've heard, "I can't go on," "I hate my life," or "There's no point" from someone you care about, you know that it's incredibly hard to know what to say next.

Following my last two posts on suicide prevention on college campuses, a friend wrote to me and shared that as a professor, he'd had a student disclose suicidal ideation. I can't tell you how many friends and colleagues have shared their fears about doing the right thing when a student - or friend, or family member - had expressed suicidality.

To offer some guidance, I put together the following tips. Yes, the context for these tips is suicide prevention. But, these are good things to keep in mind when talking with anyone about a difficult experience (depression, abuse, death or other loss):

1) Listen. I know it sounds simple, but it's profoundly true. You may be the first person they've told, or you may be the tenth. You might be the first to truly listen.

2) Be supportive, not dismissive. It's easier to think, "I have a lot on my plate right now and I can't take on a suicidal person" than to sit with a person and their feelings. But, your support is crucially important. Believe anyone who says that they are thinking about suicide and let them know that you care about them.

3) Know your limits. At the same time, if you are not a clinician, don't try to be a clinician. You don't need any special knowledge to be supportive, but know when it would be good to connect with someone trained to work more comprehensively with suicidal individuals. If you are talking with someone who has specific ideas about how they would end their life, connect them with a crisis center or clinician.

4) Know your resources. If nothing else, know the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1.800.273.8255). The Lifeline can be a resource for you, or for someone expressing suicidal thoughts. The Lifeline can also connect you to local crisis resources. If you're on a campus, know how to connect with the counseling center.

5) Get support - don't do it alone. Clinicians get supervision because the things they hear are extremely difficult, and sometimes talking about it can relieve some of the burden of hearing it. So, if you talk with someone about their suicidal thinking, it's important for you to talk to someone else. Ideally, that person has some experience dealing with challenging topics, so that they can be supportive of you.

It's a brave thing to talk to someone about suicidal thinking - it's brave for the person saying that they're thinking about ending their life, and it's brave for the person who's listening to them share such deeply personal thoughts. Listening and support are just the first steps, but vitally important to preventing suicide.
Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/promoting-hope-preventing-suicide/201201/5-dos-when-someone-says-im-suicidal

What to do if someone you know says they’re going to commit suicide


“I’m going to kill myself.”

What do you do if someone tells you he or she is going to kill themselves?

I didn’t know how to answer that question until I listened to a presentation by Tom Ellis, PsyD, ABPP, director of Psychology at The Menninger Clinic.

I learned that first, you must remember that people thinking about taking their own lives are not thinking clearly. They’re trying to find a solution for devastating, painful, overwhelm"Rick Warren Matthew Warren suicide"ing problems, and they believe, because their brain is not physically functioning, that suicide is the answer. They have tunnel vision; they’re suffering so badly it physically hurts them; and they have zero hope. Their brain is not functioning just as people’s hearts, kidneys, knees and sciatic nerves do not function, which is why it’s ridiculous to make people feel ashamed because they have a mental health issue. Bully for Pastor Rick Warren for pointing out that lapse in logic after his son, Matthew, took his life.

Second, be honored that the person in front of you talking about suicide trusts you.

From Dr. Ellis, I learned to say to them, "I’m listening. I’m here. I care about you. I’m scared. Let’s get some help."

I would add: “I’ll help you find a therapist.”

And: “I’ll drive and wait with you. I won’t leave you.”

I’d also add:

If you don’t like the first therapist, we’ll find one you do like. There are other solutions to your pain, and the therapist you like will help you find them. I will NOT be better off if you die. I will be worse off, and it will sadden me for the rest of my life.

Dr. Ellis said to take all suicide communication seriously. He also said it’s an act of courage for a therapist and patient to talk about suicide.

Life-saving therapists say things like, “Let’s talk about ways of keeping you safe without going to the hospital.” “Tell me about the pain that makes you want to die and what makes you want to live.”

I hope I never have to use Dr. Ellis’ wisdom, but now, at least, I feel somewhat prepared.
Source: saynotostigma.com/2013/08/what-to-do-if-someone-you-know-says-theyre-going-to-commit-suicide/

What to do and say when someone wants to commit suicide


Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain's recent suicide sent shock waves through the world. Here are ways you can help somebody who's contemplating suicide.

A few days ago, 61-year-old celebrity chef and television host Anthony Bourdain took his own life. He hanged himself in his hotel bathroom in Kaysersberg, France, using the belt from his hotel bathrobe.

According to prosecutor Christian de Rocquigny, toxicology tests will be performed to see whether Bourdain took any medications, which may help his family understand what led him to kill himself.

He said, “There is no element that makes us suspect that someone came into the room at any moment.”

The cold hard truth about suicide

The World Health Organization estimates that globally close to 800 000 people die from suicide every year – that’s one person every 40 seconds.

Suicide is a terrifying idea to explore – but before we go into how you can help, here are some of the worst things you can do:

  • Don’t say anything and ignore their cry for help.
  • Mock them by saying they are just looking for attention.
  • Ask them why they want to kill themselves.
  • Turn it into a joke or encourage them to just do it.
  • Tell them they are a coward; that suicide is a cowardly act.

What to look out for

According to Dr Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, you must look for changes in pattern. "People can only keep things hidden to a certain extent. If you think about it, our behaviour patterns are in a pretty tight and narrow range. Your radar will go off if someone you know is acting differently, because you know their patterns."

She continues, "Even if your instincts are to avoid the person because you're afraid you don’t know enough or that you might offend the person, you may be the only one who is noticing and who will reach out. Everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide."

Remember, too, that someone who is contemplating suicide will not necessarily call a helpline – you may need to step in and help.

Take any suicide threat seriously

Dr Moutier says the best thing you can do if you're unsure whether someone is suicidal is to start an honest, caring conversation where you listen more than you talk. If you notice any signs indicating that they feel hopeless, depressed or trapped, be direct and ask them if they are having suicidal thoughts.

"That’s not going to make them worse; it’s not going to plant a seed. If you’ve created a safe environment to have this conversation, they will feel a sense of relief that they’ve been able to share this experience with someone who’s not judging them," says Dr Moutier.

If someone says they want to die, don’t ignore them. The National Institute of Mental Health says "suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of extreme distress and alert that someone needs help. Any warning sign or symptom of suicide should not be ignored. All talk of suicide should be taken seriously and requires attention. Threatening to die by suicide is not a normal response to stress and shout not be taken lightly."

It's also important to know that almost every single person who has attempted suicide has given some kind of warning. Take note of statements such as “You’ll be sorry when I’m gone” or “I can’t see any way out” – they may indicate suicidal feelings.

How to talk about suicide

Stacey Freedenthal, a Denver psychotherapist, consultant, and associate professor at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work, has had extensive experience in dealing with suicide prevention. She has also compiled a useful list of things to say should you find yourself in a difficult position with a loved one who is suicidal.

1. ‘I’m glad you told me you’re thinking of suicide’

It’s natural to react with anger or disbelief when someone tells you they are thinking of suicide but that will only cause the person to regret having told you, which may push them away. When you tell them you are glad they told you what they are thinking, you are letting them know you can handle the situation, and that you encourage honesty and disclosure.

2. ‘I’m sad to hear you’re hurting’

Empathy can go a long way, particularly towards validating the person's pain and helping soothe their loneliness. You cannot say, “It could be much worse” or “You don’t really mean that” or “But you have so much to live for.” Do not diminish the pain that they are feeling right now.

3. 'What’s happening to you that makes you want to die?'

Asking them to tell their story of why they want to die shows them that you really care and want to understand. Make sure you really listen to their story. Follow up with more invitations to share, such as "Tell me more." You can show empathy or understanding by saying, “That sounds terrible” or “I can see why you're in pain."

4. 'When do you think you’ll act on your suicidal thoughts?'

Freedenthal says that even if you’re not a mental health professional, "you still can ask some basic questions to help understand the person’s risk for suicide. Asking about timing will make the difference between whether you need to call someone immediately for help, for example, if the person says, 'I have a gun in my backpack and I’m going to shoot myself during lunch', or whether you can continue to have leisurely conversation with the person."

5. 'What can I do to help?'

Sharing resources that may help them is good, but you also need to make them understand that you are available to help too. "That said, there’s only so much you can do, so if you are feeling solely responsible for keeping the person alive, it’s best to involve others, too," writes Freedenthal.

Never ignore the warning signs

Suicide warning signs can be subtle or obvious, and include:

  • Talking about suicide, dying or self-harm
  • Being preoccupied with death, for example, writing poems or stories about death
  • Having no hope for the future, feeling trapped and hopeless
  • Feelings of worthlessness, self-hatred, guilt, shame or saying they feel like a burden
  • Getting their affairs in order by drawing up a will or giving away valued possessions
  • Withdrawing from friends and family; no longer socialising because they prefer to be alone
  • Making unexpected visits or calls to friends and family, and saying goodbye

If a person has a sudden sense of calm and happiness after going through an extremely bad depressive episode, it could mean they have decided to attempt suicide.
Source: www.health24.com/Medical/Depression/Suicide/what-to-do-and-say-when-someone-wants-to-commit-suicide-20180612

10 Things to Say to a Suicidal Person


Many people desperately want to know what to say – and what not to say – to someone who is thinking of suicide. The article 10 Things Not to Say to a Suicidal Person is SpeakingOfSuicide.com’s most popular post. Almost a half-million people have viewed it in the last 2½ years. Several hundred have left comments.

Sometimes people complain to me that the post describes what not to say, but it doesn’t say enough about what to say. They’re right. So in this post, I provide 10 things to say to a suicidal person.

First, Some Caveats

Before starting, I want to make some things clear: I came up with this list based on my conversations with suicidal individuals in my work as a clinical social worker, my readings of both clinical literature and accounts by individuals who experienced suicidal crises, and my own past experiences with suicidal thoughts. Nobody has actually researched systematically the most effective things for friends or family to say to a suicidal person, so opinion and experience are the best we’ve got for now. Results will vary according to different people’s needs and personalities.

I also want to make clear that this list of things to say is not intended to be a script. Instead, I illustrate ways that you can help a suicidal person continue to open up, rather than shutting the person down with a comment that minimizes, invalidates, or even denigrates the person’s experience.

And I want to add that what to say often isn’t nearly as important as how to listen. As I explain in my post “How Would You Listen to a Person on the Roof?”, someone who is thinking of suicide needs to feel understood. Let the person tell their story. Refrain from immediately trying to fix the situation or make the person feel better. These efforts, however well intended, can halt the conversation.

So, with all that said, here are 10 things you can say to someone who tells you that they are considering suicide.

1. “I’m so glad you told me that you’re thinking of suicide.”

When someone discloses suicidal thoughts, some parents, partners, friends and others react with anger (“Don’t be stupid!”), pain (“How could you think of hurting me like that?”), or disbelief (“You can’t be serious.”) Some “freak out.” A suicidal person might then feel a need to comfort the hurt person, provide a defense to the angry person, or retreat internally from the disbelieving person. The person might regret ever having shared in the first place that they were thinking of suicide.

By saying “I’m glad you told me” – or something similar – you convey that you welcome and encourage disclosure of suicidal thoughts, and that you can handle it.

2. “I’m sad you’re hurting like this.”

This simple expression of empathy can go a long way toward validating the person’s pain and soothing a sense of aloneness. There’s no “Oh it’s not so bad,” no “You don’t really mean that,” no “But you have so much going for you,” no other statement denying or minimizing the person’s pain.

3. “What’s going on that makes you want to die?”

This invitation to the suicidal person to tell their story can provide validation, engender a sense of connection, and show that you really want to understand. Ask the person to tell their story. And then, listen. Really listen. To deepen your understanding, follow up with more invitations to share, like “Tell me more.” Show empathy and understanding, too: “That sounds awful” or “I can see why that’s painful.”

4. “When do you think you’ll act on your suicidal thoughts?”

Even if you’re not a mental health professional, you still can ask some basic questions to help understand the person’s risk for suicide. Asking about timing will make the difference between whether you need to call someone immediately for help (for example, if the person says, “I have a gun in my backpack and I’m going to shoot myself during lunch”) or whether you can continue to have leisurely conversation with the person.

5. “What ways do you think of killing yourself?”

This is another risk-assessment question. The answer can help reveal the gravity of the situation. A person who has put a lot of time and thought into suicide methods might be in more danger than someone with a vague wish to be dead, for example.

Understanding the suicide methods that the person has considered also will help you in your efforts to keep the person safe. For example, if you’re a parent and your teenage child discloses suicidal thoughts, knowing that your teenager is considering overdosing on a painkiller alerts you to the need to lock up or throw away all potentially dangerous medications. (See this information from the Center for Youth for ways to make your home safer.)

6. “Do you have access to a gun?”

Even if you think the person doesn’t own a gun or can’t get a hold of one, this information is always important. If the answer is yes, ask the person to consider giving the gun (or a key piece of the gun) to someone, locking the gun up and giving someone the key, or doing something else to make the home gun-free until the danger of suicide goes down. For more information about firearm safety related to suicide risk, also see this gun safety fact sheet.

7. “Help is available.”

By telling the person about help that’s available, you can help them to not feel so alone, helpless, or hopeless. If you are in the U.S., you can give them the number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800.273.8255) or the Crisis Text Line (741-741). You also can show them the SpeakingOfSuicide.com Resources page, which lists other resources in the U.S. and worldwide to receive help by phone, email, text, or online chat. If the person who reveals suicidal thoughts to you is your child, take them to a mental health professional or an emergency room for an evaluation.

8. “What can I do to help?”

Definitely tell the person about resources for help, but also make clear that you are available, too, if you’re able to do so. That said, there’s only so much you can do, so if you are feeling solely responsible for keeping the person alive, it’s best to involve others, too.

9. “I care about you, and I would be so sad if you died by suicide.”

Be careful here. In my earlier post, one of the 10 things not to say is, “Don’t you know I would be devastated if you killed yourself? How could you think of hurting me like that?” As I note in that post, “Your loved one already feels awful. Heaping guilt on top of that is not going to help them feel soothed, understood, or welcome to tell you more.”

At the same time, a simple statement of how much you care about or love the person can help nurture a sense of connection, if your statement isn’t an attempt to stop the person from talking further about suicide.

10. “I hope you’ll keep talking to me about your thoughts of suicide.”

Just as you want the person to feel welcome for having shared their suicidal thoughts to you, it’s good to make clear that you would welcome further disclosures, as well. Often, someone who has suicidal thoughts senses from others an expectation to “get over it already.” By inviting the person to come to you again about their suicidal thoughts, you can help prevent isolation and secrecy.

What Are Your Ideas about What to Say to a Suicidal Person?

There are many other helpful responses besides those listed here. If you have thoughts of suicide, what do you wish someone would say to you if you told them? If you have ever helped a suicidal friend or family member, what responses from you seemed to foster sharing, connection, and safety? Please feel free to leave a comment below.
Source: www.speakingofsuicide.com/2017/10/03/10-things-to-say/

My Friend Is Talking About Suicide. What Should I Do?


Warning Signs of Suicide

Everyone feels sad, depressed, or angry sometimes — especially when dealing with the pressures of school, friends, and family. But some people may feel sadness or hopelessness that just won't go away, and even small problems may seem like too much to handle.

Depression can affect many areas of a person's life and outlook. Someone who has very intense feelings of depression, emotional pain, or irritability may begin to think about suicide.

You may have heard that people who talk about suicide won't actually go through with it. That's not true. People who talk about suicide may be likely to try it.

  • Other warning signs that someone may be thinking of suicide include:
  • talking about suicide or death in general
  • talking about "going away"
  • talking about feeling hopeless or feeling guilty
  • pulling away from friends or family and losing the desire to go out
  • having no desire to take part in favorite activities
  • having trouble concentrating or thinking clearly
  • experiencing changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • engaging in self-destructive behavior (drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or driving too fast, for example)

As a friend, you may also know if the person is going through some tough times. Sometimes, a specific event, stress, or crisis — like a relationship breaking up or a death in the family — can trigger suicidal behavior in someone who is already feeling depressed and showing the warning signs listed above.

What You Can Do

Ask

If you have a friend who is talking about suicide or showing other warning signs, don't wait to see if he or she starts to feel better. Talk about it. Most of the time, people who are considering suicide are willing to discuss it if someone asks them out of concern and care.

Some people (both teens and adults) are reluctant to ask teens if they have been thinking about suicide or hurting themselves. That's because they're afraid that, by asking, they may plant the idea of suicide. This is not true. It is always a good thing to ask.

Starting the conversation with someone you think may be considering suicide helps in many ways. First, it allows you to get help for the person. Second, just talking about it may help the person to feel less alone, less isolated, and more cared about and understood — the opposite of the feelings that may have led to suicidal thinking to begin with. Third, talking may provide a chance to consider that there may be another solution.

Asking someone if he or she is having thoughts about suicide can be difficult. Sometimes it helps to let your friend know why you are asking. For instance, you might say, "I've noticed that you've been talking a lot about wanting to be dead. Have you been having thoughts about trying to kill yourself?"

Listen

Listen to your friend without judging and offer reassurance that you're there and you care. If you think your friend is in immediate danger, stay close — make sure he or she isn't left alone.

Tell

Even if you're sworn to secrecy and you feel like you'll be betraying your friend if you tell, you should still get help. Share your concerns with an adult you trust as soon as possible. You can also call the toll-free number for a suicide crisis line (like 1-800-SUICIDE) or a local emergency number (911).

The important thing is to notify a responsible adult. Although it may be tempting to try to help your friend on your own, it's always safest to get help.

After Suicide

Sometimes even if you get help and adults intervene, a friend or classmate may attempt or die by suicide. When this happens, it's common to have many different emotions. Some teens say they feel guilty — especially if they felt they could have interpreted their friend's actions and words better. Others say they feel angry with the person for doing something so selfish. Still others say they feel nothing at all — they are too filled with grief to process their emotions.

When someone attempts suicide, those who know that person may feel afraid or uncomfortable about talking to him or her. Try to overcome these feelings of discomfort — this is a time when someone absolutely needs to feel connected to others.

If you are having difficulty dealing with a friend or classmate's suicide, it's best to talk to an adult you trust. Feeling grief after a friend dies by suicide is normal. But if that sadness begins to interfere with your everyday life, it's a sign that you may need to speak with someone about your feelings.
Source: kidshealth.org/en/teens/talking-about-suicide.html

 
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