How to Help a Suicidal Person
It is estimated that more than a million people die each year as a result of suicide. Many of those who end their lives may not want to die but are experiencing so much pain and turmoil that they can see no other way to end the pain. People experiencing suicidal depression often don’t ask for help, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want it. Suicide prevention begins with recognizing the warning signs and responding appropriately. Talking to a loved one about suicidal thoughts may be difficult, but it may help save their life. If a suicide attempt appears to be imminent, call 911 or get other help immediately. Do not leave the person alone under any circumstances.
Warning Signs of Suicide
There are often warning signs that an individual intends to commit suicide. Recognizing these signs can help prevent it from happening. If you believe a friend or family member is suicidal, you can help by showing that you care, pointing out alternatives and urging them to seek professional help. The following are warning signs.
- Any talk about ending their life or dying.
- Searching for guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be lethal
- A preoccupation with death and dying or writing about it
- Withdrawal and becoming increasingly isolated from friends or family
- A feeling of hopelessness or belief that they are trapped in a situation that will never change.
- Self-loathing or feelings of worthlessness
- Creating a will or giving away possessions
- Unexpected calls or visits to friends and family to say goodbye
- Self-destructive behavior such as reckless driving or drug and alcohol abuse
- Dramatic mood swings. A period of calm and peacefulness following a severe bout of depression
What to Say to a Suicidal Person
Openly discussing suicidal thoughts often allows the person to release their pent up negative feelings. It can provide relief from feelings of loneliness
- Act natural. Let the person know you care about them and that they are not alone.
- Don’t worry about choosing the right words. The concern will be evident in your voice.
- Listening is important. It allows them to express their anger and despair. No matter how angry or negative they sound, the fact that they are talking is an encouraging sign.
- Offer sympathy, patience and acceptance. Remain calm and don’t be judgmental.
- Help them to understand that suicidal feelings aren’t permanent.
- Give them hope and let them know there is help available.
- Express your concern for them and let them know their life is important to you.
- If they talk about things such as being so depressed they can’t go on, ask them if they’re suicidal.
- Discussing suicide doesn’t give them the idea. It expresses concern and lets them know it’s alright to share their pain with you.
What Not to Say to a Suicidal Person
There are some things you should refrain from saying to a suicidal person. The conversation should remain sensitive to their feelings and directed toward seeking help.
- Never argue with a suicidal person.
- Don’t tell them they have “so much to live for” or to “look on the bright side”.
- Don’t tell them how much it will hurt their family.
- Don’t act shocked or lecture them about suicide being wrong.
- Don’t promise confidentiality. You may have to break the promise to ensure their safety.
- Don’t give advice or suggest ways to resolve their problems
- Never make them feel the need to justify their feelings. The size of the problem is less of an issue than the degree of pain they are experiencing.
- Don’t blame yourself. You are not responsible for your loved one’s happiness.
Approximately 90 percent of the people who commit suicide suffer from mental health disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or alcoholism. Northbound Treatment Services can provide help for suicidal people. Their treatment programs offer assistance for patients who experience mental disorders that lead to suicide. Northbound Treatment Services provides a caring environment with professionals who know how to help a suicidal person.