Suicide is preventable and suicide prevention works. It's hard but it's not impossible to save a life. Most suicidal individuals give warning signs or signals of their intentions.
The best way to prevent suicide is to recognize these warning signs and know how to respond if you spot them. If you believe that a friend or family member is suicidal, you can play a role in suicide prevention by pointing out the alternatives, showing that you care, and getting a doctor or psychologist involved.
Major warning signs for suicide include talking about killing or harming oneself, talking or writing a lot about death or dying, and seeking out things that could be used in a suicide attempt, such as weapons and drugs. These signals are even more dangerous if the person has a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder, suffers from alcohol dependence, has previously attempted suicide, or has a family history of suicide or have been a victim of severe abuse, rape or bullying.
Speak up if you’re worried
Talking to a friend or family member about their suicidal thoughts and feelings can be extremely difficult for anyone. But if you're unsure whether someone is suicidal, the best way to find out is to ask. You can't make a person suicidal by showing that you care
. In fact, giving a suicidal person the opportunity to express his or her feelings can provide relief from loneliness and pent-up negative feelings, and may prevent a suicide attempt.
Be yourself, don't judge the person, and don't give a premature opinion. Understand, understand, or at least try to understand their situation, where they're coming from, the reasons, the pain. It's hard, it's not easy, but be patient, listen. Don't lecture them about the value of life, or argue against their words, let them finish, yet at the same time don't
agree to secrecy, this is a life you're dealing with, secrets can be deadly. Offer hope, reassurance, the feeling that you do care for real and that they're not alone, but don't try to fix their problem, or give advices on how to. A person on the verge of suicide is usually in a delicate emotional state and making them feel extra guilty for their troubles won't help.
If a friend or family member tells you that he or she is thinking about death or suicide, it's important to evaluate the immediate danger the person is in. Those at the highest risk for committing suicide in the near future have a specific suicide PLAN, the MEANS to carry out the plan, a TIME SET for doing it, and an INTENTION to do it.
Suicide risk varies between low, moderate, high and severe being the worse obviously. While low and moderate risk may or may not have a vague plan on how they'd commit suicide, high and severe risks will have a plan, a time and means, only difference is that the people at severe risk will be confirming that they'll commit suicide, however people at high risk will usually answer no when asked whether they'd commit suicide or not.
The following questions can help you assess the immediate risk for suicide:
Do you have a suicide plan? (PLAN)
Do you have what you need to carry out your plan (pills, gun, etc.)? (MEANS)
Do you know when you would do it? (TIME SET)
Do you intend to commit suicide? (INTENTION)
If a suicide attempt seems imminent, call a local crisis center, dial 911, or take the person to an emergency room. Remove guns, drugs, knives, and other potentially lethal objects from the vicinity but do not, under any circumstances, leave a suicidal person alone.
Offer help and support
If a friend or family member is suicidal, the best way to help is by offering an empathetic, listening ear. Let your loved one know that he or she is not alone and that you care. Don't take responsibility, however, for making your loved one well. You can offer support, but you can't get better for a suicidal person. He or she has to make a personal commitment to recovery.
It takes a lot of courage to help someone who is suicidal. Witnessing a loved one dealing with thoughts about ending his or her own life can stir up many difficult emotions. As you're helping a suicidal person, don't forget to take care of yourself. Find someone that you trust—a friend, family member, clergyman, or counselor—to talk to about your feelings and get support of your own.Get a professional help if you have to
, call a crisis line or the local police, follow up on treatment
. Be proactive
. Those contemplating suicide often don't believe they can be helped, so you may have to be more proactive at offering assistance. Continue your support over the long haul.
Even after the immediate suicidal crisis has passed, stay in touch with the person, periodically checking in or dropping by. Your support is vital to ensure your friend or loved one remains on the recovery track.
Sometimes however, we're not that lucky. It's too late when we reach out for help. What is a family's reaction when a family member completes suicide?Most feel a combination of emotions: anger, sadness, guilt, shame and fear. They wonder what they could have done and why they didn’t do more. Suicide is different from other kinds of sudden death because the reason for the death is difficult to understand. With a car accident there is an external explanation or cause – an icy road, loss of vehicle control, etc. With a homicide, the grief-stricken can point to a perpetrator. With suicide, we don’t have an external cause, and so we ask ourselves over and over: 'why?'
It is okay to grieve.
The death of a loved one can feel like sudden, unexpected and drastic amputation of a limb without any anaesthesia. The pain cannot be described and no scale can measure the loss. We want so much for our loved one to return so that we can do something, and we ache knowing that it just can’t happen. You need to know that it's okay to grieve.It is okay to cry.
Tears release the flood of sorrow of missing the one you love. Tears relieve the brut force of hurting, enabling us to "level off" and continue our cruise along the stream of life. Shedding tears is not a sign of weakness-it is a sign of our human nature and emotions of deep despair and sorrow. It's okay to cry. It is okay to heal: We do not need to "prove" that we loved the person who has died. As the months pass we are slowly able to move around with less outward grieving each day. We need not feel "guilty", for this is not an indication that we love less. It only means that, although we don't like it, we are learning to accept death and it's finality of the pain our loved one suffered. It's a healthy sign of healing. It's okay to heal.It is okay to laugh.
Laughter is not a sign of "less" grief. Laughter is not a sign of "less" love. It's a sign that many of our thoughts and memories are happy ones and our dear one would have wanted us to laugh again. It's okay to laugh.Adapted from: Suicide: Survivors - A Guide For Those Left Behind