Monday, March 24, 2014

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Helping Someone Who is Suicidal

Suicide is unfortunately common and the thought of someone we love considering suicide is overwhelming. While there are some things we can do to help in such a situation, it is important to recognize that someone facing a suicidal crisis is likely to need professional help. One of the most important things we can do is provide support and help the person connect with a mental health provider. Obtaining professional help in a timely manner may be the difference between life and death.

Dr. Rachel Pruchno (All in the Family) has an informative post providing some recommendations on what to do when someone is suicidal. They include:
  • Express concern for the person. Take the expression of suicidal thoughts seriously and communicate that you are doing so. 
  • Do not avoid the subject but ask directly whether the person is thinking about suicide and whether they have thought about how they might do it. Research has shown us that openly talking about suicide does not put ideas in peoples' heads that are not already there. It may even be a relief to have someone to talk to about how one has been feeling.
  • Encourage the person to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
  • If the person is already receiving treatment, encourage them to contact their treatment provider right away and offer to go with them. If they are not already receiving professional assistance, help them find a mental health provider and make an appointment. If they are not sure they can wait for an appointment, consider taking them to the emergency room of your local hospital.
  • Do not try to argue someone out of suicide; let them know that you care, that you are there to help them however you can, and that you want them to get help.
  • In the event of an emergency such as a suicide attempt, call 911.
  • Try not to leave the person alone.