Suicide Prevention and You
In the wake of the tragic loss of Robin Williams to suicide, many are wondering what they can do to help a friend or loved one who they think may be suicidal. Of course, ideally no one who is untrained should be put in the position of being responsible for trying to keep someone from committing suicide. However, if you should suddenly find yourself in a situation where suicide is possible, there are actions you can take to help a person in need of life-saving assistance.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, someone dies from suicide every 13 minutes. So, it’s a good idea to take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the risk factors and warning signs of suicide. Hopefully, you will never be faced with having to figure out what to do when a friend or loved one is thinking about suicide. The following information is provided with the hope that if you ever are in that scenario, you’ll have some idea of what you can do to save a life.
Now you may think that if somebody really wants to die, there’s nothing you can do to stop them. The truth is that a suicidal person likely has mixed feelings about dying. Their suicidal ideation may come from a treatable mental illness. Medication, talk therapy, or a combination of the two has been shown to effectively treat the underlying causes of suicidality. Encouraging and assisting the suicidal person to seek treatment may be the best way to help.
If someone tells you that they are thinking about suicide, take it seriously. Let them know that you are there for them. Don’t try to talk them out of it; just listen. Tell them you will help them find support. Find out if they have a specific suicide plan. If they do, please do not leave them alone. Take away any medication, drugs, firearms or items that they could use to hurt themselves. If at all possible, take them to a hospital emergency room, mental health professional, or doctor. If they won’t go, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for help (add this number to your contacts now, so you won’t have to scramble to find it in a crisis).
If your friend has confided in you about their suicide plans, and has asked you to promise to keep their secret; don’t. Your friend’s life is more important than possibly losing your friendship for betraying their confidence. If you can’t do it alone, call someone you trust and ask them to come help you to get your friend to a professional. If all of your encouragement and support doesn’t work and the suicidal person refuses to get help, call 911. If you are concerned that if you leave, the person is going to hurt themselves, call 911. Depression or some other mental disorder may be affecting their judgment, and you are in a position to think clearly and act.
Ultimately, everyone feels stressed out and even depressed sometimes. However, serious depression, requiring intervention, can have the following symptoms:
•Little pleasure in doing things previously enjoyed
•Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or sleeping more than usual
•Loss of appetite or eating more than usual
•Feeling tired, without energy, or like everything is moving in slow motion
•Feeling agitated, fidgety, and restless
•Feeling like a failure, or like they let themselves or someone else down
•Thinking they’d be better off dead
If you find that someone you care about is feeling depressed and it has persisted for weeks, it’s time for them to seek professional help. Perhaps the above description of symptoms applies to you. Talking with a trained therapist will help you to resolve these feelings and build strengths. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services in Orlando at 407-443-8862 to make an appointment.