Know the warning signs.
This is huge. In order to help in any way, you've got to know what to look for! According to this website, 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. More subtle signs include hopelessness, dramatic mood swings, sudden personality changes, lost interest in day-to-day activities, neglect in appearance, and changes in eating and/or sleeping habits.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.
This week is National Suicide Prevention Week.
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? For those of us who haven't personally been at that deep, dark place, it's unfathomable, but it's a growing problem.
Suicide Prevention Tips
#1: Speak up
If you notice any of the warning signs in a family member, loved one, friend, or acquaintance, the first step is to speak up about it. This can be difficult, as I'd imagine, but it could save someone's life. A common 'excuse' for not speaking up is that you're afraid you're wrong or they may take it the wrong way. What do you say? How do you just bring that up? Well, there are so many organizations and data out there to help. Here's what a few experts say:
Ways to start a conversation about suicide:
- I have been feeling concerned about you lately.
- Recently, I've 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.
You don't have to attack them and immediately accuse someone of being suicidal, but show that you care and be yourself. Also, be sure to really listen and be non-judgmental. If they really are going through a difficult time and are thinking of suicide as the only way out, being critical of their situation will only worsen it.
Questions you can ask:
- When did you begin feeling like this?
- Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?
- How can I best support you right now?
- Have you thought about getting help?
Offer hope to them. Reassure them that help is possible and that you care about them. Allow them to share their pain with you and let them know there are other ways to climb out of their depression.
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.
They may be defensive, and it's good to remember not to argue with them. If they counteract any of these saying that there's no hope, do not argue. Attempt to alleviate the situation. Also, don't act shocked or lecture on about the value of life. Don't tell them they're wrong.
#2: Respond Quickly
If someone tells you that they are thinking about suicide, evaluate the immediate danger the person is in. Ask them if they have a suicide plan, if they have the means to carry it out, a time frame for their plan, or if they intend to go through with it. If you believe suicide seems imminent, call 911. Do not leave the suicidal person alone.
#3: Offer Help & Support
Be empathetic towards the suicidal individual and listen to them. Get professional help, follow-up on treatment, be proactive [drop by or call], make a safety plan, remove potential means of suicide, and continue your support over the long haul. If someone opens up to you about their suicidal thoughts and/or actions, don't be a temporary solution. Show them you truly care by sticking with them through the situation, however long it takes. Follow up with them and help them through it in any way they need.
If you're contemplating whether suicide is the way to go, please think again.