SUPPORTING A LOVED ONE WHO IS SUICIDAL
Finding out that a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts can be nothing short of terrifying. Your mind jumps from one catastrophic scenario to the next... You feel scared to fall asleep in case the worse happens. You feel like you world has been changed by this earth-shattering news, and you have no idea what will happen next. The base root of all this fear is helplessness. You can't live inside the mind of another, you can't forcibly change how they think. But you can help them get through this. And we're here to help show you how.
START ASKING QUESTIONS
It can feel like a very big deal to someone to reveal that they are having suicidal thoughts. The vulnerability required can make them feel as if they are being emotionally ripped open and add to their distress. However painful, uncertain, or downright scary it may feel, you need to explore their feelings with them in a gentle yet direct manner. This is extremely serious, and you need to know how seriously to take these feelings. Make sure they are not in a state of overwhelm and start asking questions - this could be a huge source of relief as they can now openly discuss their feelings. Some questions you could ask are:
- What is going on in your life right now that feels the most overwhelming?
- Are you thinking about suicide? When do you most frequently have these thoughts?
- Have you had moments in your life like this before?
- Have you ever made a plan in your head about how you would do it?
- Do you currently have anything in your possession that you could use to harm yourself?
COMMON SIGNS OF DANGER
Even after having many discussions, a person may not reveal that they are suicidal. They may downplay it, gloss over it, or blatantly deny that they are feeling bad. They could even become angry and lash out at their inner circle, isolating themselves further. With that being said, nobody can keep an act up all the time, and there are certain behaviors that act as serious warning signals.
- Social withdrawal
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Changes in day to day routines
- Increased alcohol and/or substance use
- Frequent mood swings and self destructive behavior
- Frequently speaking about topics in a manner that leaves them feeling hopeless or upset
- Giving away personal belongings for no logical reason
- Saying goodbye to people as if they won't see them again
- Expressing a desire to die or a wish that they hadn't been born
HELP AND HOPE IS AVAILABLE
The best thing you can do for a loved who is experiencing thoughts of suicide is to consistently reassure them of your unwavering support and desire for them to fight through this with you at their side. Make them aware of all the options available to help them get to a better place mentally.
- Seek professional treatment - A suicidal individual may lack the motivation to seek help for themselves. If you have the capacity to do so, help them to contact their doctor, a support group, crisis center, or faith leader. You can also research treatment options, mental health counselors, and accompany them to appointments.
- Learn how to communicate - You can seek advice from your doctor, counselor, or support network on how best to navigate this crisis from your end. Encouraging them to discuss their feelings with you, both positive and negative, remaining nonjudgemental, and frequently reassuring them that "this too shall pass" can work miracles.
- Never "keep the secret" for the them - A suicidal individual may beg you not to tell anyone, medical staff included, what has been going on in their mind. You must never agree to this and instead explain to them that you will contact emergency services if anything were to happen.
- Exercise prudence and plan ahead - A person who is experiencing urges to self harm or kill themselves should not consume any amounts of alcohol or other substances. However, this is easier said than done when you are dealing with a grown adult who has their mind set on harming themself. To keep the person as safe as possible, remove all alcohol and drugs, as well as any paraphernalia like medications, razor blades, firearms, or sharp knives from their home.
With Help Comes Hope Care Kit
This kit has been carefully curated to help guide you or a loved one towards the first steps to recovery after a suicide attempt or suicidal ideation.
Find Your Anchor Box
Are you struggling? This box is yours for as long as you need it, no questions asked. However, when you find yourself in a better spot, consider passing it along to someone else.