Each day, over 100 Americans die by suicide. For every one death, there are approximately 25 attempts. Suicide rates are highest among teenagers and elderly. It is likely that you or someone you know has been touched by suicide, but are you comfortable with talking to someone you think might be thinking about suicide?
How do I know if a loved one is thinking about suicide?
Sometimes people drop subtle hints about suicide. Some of them include:
- Talking about death and dying or feelings of hopelessness
- Feeling like a burden to others
- Withdrawing from others
- Talking about being in unbearable pain
- Increased use of alcohol and drugs
- Giving away prized possessions
What do I do when a loved one is thinking about suicide?
Once you’ve suspected someone is thinking about suicide, the best way to help is to ask them directly: “Are you thinking about suicide?” Avoid ambiguity so you can be sure you’re on the same page. If a person tell you they are thinking about suicide, consider that your invitation to help. A few ways you can help HEAL are:
HOPE is the number one thing someone thinking about suicide needs. Offer hope in what way you can. Encourage them to think about their children, pets, or other goals they have set for themselves.
ENCOURAGE them to seek support from a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. Help them call for an appointment if needed. It may even be helpful for you to go with them to their first appointment.
ACT accordingly to the situation. Are the concerns about safety such as weapons or pills that could be used for suicide? If so, remove them from the situation.
LISTEN to concerns and for the reasons they want to die. Don’t pass judgements about whether suicide is wrong or selfish. Don’t make light of situations going on in their life. Just listen and show understanding.
If you are immediately concerned about someone’s safety, it is best to call 911 and alert the operator about the mental health crisis. Do not leave the person alone until help has arrived.
If you are thinking about suicide and are not sure who you can talk to, you can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (Veterans, please select option 1) anytime day or night.
Cy-Hope Counseling is here to offer support to those who are thinking about suicide or are suicide survivors. Call our office to speak with the intake specialist.
Written by: Kristina Camp, Practium Counselor