What to do – Treatment and Support
Many of us have encountered suicide as a topic in one way or another, but as a topic it is not one that regularly factors in our reality. What would you do if you were suddenly made aware of a loved one’s intentions to cause themselves serious harm, possibly fatally? We are conditioned to talk ourselves out of uncomfortable situations, most often dismissing them as “none of our business” or “paranoia”, but we should not entirely dismiss our gut instinct and instead take these signs seriously. After all, 50% – 75% of all suicides are preceded by a warning – some indicate their intentions in conversations with a friend or a family member.
If you should find yourself engaged in such a discussion, be sure to listen carefully to what is being said and communicate your concern. Similarly, if the topic is depression do not worry about asking the person if they are contemplating suicide and, if they are, what method they have in mind. This will provide you with more information to help in the prevention of suicide.
The AFSP recommends asking if they have a therapist or if they are taking medication, and warns against trying to “argue someone out of suicide. Let the person know you care, that he/she is not alone, that suicidal feelings are temporary and that depression can be treated.” Do not try to tell them the value of their lives, or how their death would impact those they love – stick to direct discussion about their issue.
Do encourage the person to seek help immediately, either with a physician or a mental health professional. Remember that the person who is considering suicide may not be convinced that they can be helped so be prepared to get further involved by finding a means of help and treatment. If you must, physically take them to the treatment facility. Be prepared to make some snap decisions, talk of suicide is not something to put on the back burner or to address at a later date. If you find yourself dealing with a sudden and serious crisis, take the following steps:
Do not leave the person alone.
Remove from the vicinity any firearms, drugs or sharp objects that could be used for suicide.
Take the person to an emergency room or walk-in clinic at a psychiatric hospital.
If a psychiatric facility is unavailable, go to your nearest hospital or clinic.
If the above options are unavailable, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).