Every year during National Suicide Prevention Month, Family Strategies and other mental health organizations and individuals across the U.S. and around the world strive to raise awareness of suicide prevention. By starting the conversation, providing support, and directing help to those who need it, we can all help prevent suicide and save lives.
Know the Warning Signs
During National Suicide Prevention Month, Family Strategies wants to help you learn how to start the conversation with someone you know who may be struggling. Some warning signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide; especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these, seek help.
- Impulsive and/or aggressive behavior
- Job or financial loss
- Loss of relationship(s)
- Local clusters of suicide
- Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse
Learn What Those in Crisis May be Feeling
Individuals in crisis feel that their situation is unsolvable and inescapable; they feel a loss of control and see no way out. This is not a time to debate whether or not suicide is right or wrong, or whether or not their feelings are good or bad, rather this is the time to listen and offer support. Some common feelings and symptoms to look for or ask about are:
- Cannot stop the pain
- Cannot think clearly
- Poor decision-making skills
- No sense of control
- No one seems to care or pay attention
- Life would be better without them in it
What Can You Do?
- ASK – Don’t be afraid to ask the tough question when someone you know is in emotional pain. Lovingly ask, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” Contrary to popular belief, research shows that asking directly provides relief and does not cause harm.
- Keep them safe – Ask them if they have thought about suicide about how they would do it. Accordingly, separate them from everything they are thinking of using to hurt themselves.
- Be there – Listen to their reasons for feeling hopeless and in pain without judgment and with compassion and empathy.
- Help them connect – Help them connect to a support system so they have others to turn to for help, such as a suicide prevention helpline, professional therapists, family, friends, church leaders, coaches, or co-workers.
- Follow up – Continuing to make contact in the days and weeks after a crisis can make all the difference in keeping someone alive. Check with them on a regular basis.
What You Should Never Do
- Be sworn to secrecy
- Act shocked
- Lecture on the value of life or anything similar
- Dismiss feelings and thoughts
Whether you or someone you care about is struggling with suicidal thoughts and feelings, at Family Strategies we have caring therapists who can help. Consider the following therapists:
Explore these additional resources for more information: