Would you recognize the signs if
you saw them? Are you familiar with the risk factors? What can you do to help someone in a crisis?
September was Suicide prevention awareness month. Hopefully all of you got some sort of training. If not, I want to share a brief summary of tools you can use so that in the event you are ever confronted with this heartbreaking situation, you will not only recognize it for what it is, but you will know what to do and have some resources.
Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and certain personality disorders, Alcohol and other substance use disorders, Hopelessness,Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies,History of trauma or abuse,Major physical illnesses,Previous suicide attempt(s),Family history of suicide, Loss of relationship(s),Easy access to lethal means, Local clusters of suicide, Lack of social support and sense of isolation, Stigma associated with asking for help, Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment, Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma, Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)
Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves, Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun,Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live, Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
Talking about being a burden to others, Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs, acting anxious or agitated, behaving recklessly, sleeping too little or too much
Withdrawing or isolating themselves, Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge, Extreme mood swings
What Do I Do?
First, remain calm. Second, ALWAYS take them seriously. ASK them straight forward— do you plan to kill yourself. Asking them DOES NOT put the idea in their head. This is a terrible myth. Be there for them, and let them know you are not being judgmental. You may see the problem as insignificant and perhaps even silly, but to them it can be monumental and it is most definitely a crisis which can only be solved one way. Try to get them to see a mental health professional for counseling. Provide them with the confidential number of the Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK. If they are a member of the LGBTQ community lead them to the TREVOR Project online resource as well. For teens, there is the Jason Foundation. You can also download the app ASK. This is the ASK about Suicide to save a life app. It has all the warning signs and numbers on an easy to carry app for you. Ensure that they do not have access to any lethal means, drugs or alcohol, and keep an eye on them. They should not be left alone. Let them know you care. This is never a secret to be kept. Tell family members as well so all can be of help. Another resource is the MY3 app. This app, along with the ASK app makes them have 3 people they can go to in case they are feeling suicidal, etc. These two apps are great resources.
I hope I’ve been able to give you enough information to make you more comfortable with this seemingly for some taboo topic. We cannot be silent about this. The month of October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month and Bullying Prevention month so I’ll post about those topics soon.