If you want to make a difference but aren’t personally suffering from suicidal thoughts, there are many things you can do to help those who are.
Know the Warning Signs
In addition to being familiar with them yourself, educating others about the warning signs that someone is having suicidal thoughts empowers them from feeling helpless when someone they love is struggling.
Warning signs include:
A history of past attempts
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Self-hating talk or thoughts
- Pulling away from friends and family
- Feeling like a burden to others
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Increased anxiety
- Unprovoked irritability or agitation
- Rage and irritability
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Loss of interest in appearance, personal health, and/or hygiene
- Uncharacteristic risk-taking behavior
Fight the Stigma
To help prevent suicide, our society needs to reduce the stigma that surrounds it by talking about it more often and more openly. One of suicide’s most detrimental misconceptions is that bringing it up will put the idea in someone’s head. In reality, this fear keeps people from honest communication, and tragically prevents many people from connecting with help when they’re in trouble. People need to know they are not alone and that they can make positive changes for a healthier life.
Know How to Take Action
If you are concerned that a loved one is at risk of suicide, it’s important to take
action immediately. You may just save a life.
Here are the necessary steps to take if you’re worried about your loved one’s safety:
- If your loved one is experiencing an emergency, call 911 immediately.
- Let them know you care and that you’re worried about them.
- Talk to them about the warning signs you’ve seen. Allow them time to respond, and really listen to them. Remain calm at all times as much as possible.
- Ask if they have any specific self-harm plans.
- Whether or not they admit to any plans to hurt themselves, suggest that they seek professional help from a psychiatrist, psychologist, or mental health rehabilitation center. Even if they’re currently working with a mental health professional, they may need a new course of treatment if you’re noticing signs of suicidal thoughts.
- If they have immediate plans to hurt themselves, offer to get them medical help right away. If they want help but aren’t ready to seek it in person, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If they refuse to get treatment, call 911.
- For more information on how to offer support to someone with suicidal thoughts, read this helpful guide from PsychAlive: Helper Tasks – How You Can Help Someone Who’s Suicidal.