Each year, 44,965 people in the United States die by suicide. That is a staggering number of people who are dying from a preventable cause.
If a loved one tells you they are suicidal, it’s important not to panic. Learn how to help someone who is suicidal using the suggestions below so that you can be prepared if your loved one ever expresses to you that they are suicidal.
Recognize the Warning Signs
Many people who are suicidal do not tell others about their thoughts or plans to kill themselves. Pay close attention to warning signs, which include:
• Talking about dying or “not being here”
• Seeking supplies to use to commit suicide
• Expressing feelings of hopelessness
• Giving away belongings
• Isolating from others
• Exhibiting reckless or self-destructive behavior
• Experiencing a sudden sense of calm or happiness (which can indicate that the person has made the decision to commit suicide)
If you recognize that a loved one has displayed any of the warning signs above, reach out to them. Have a non-judgmental conversation with this person, letting them know about your concerns and offering to listen to them. Let your loved one know that you care about them and want to help them feel better. Offer them hope and help them come up with a plan to start feeling better.
During your conversation with your loved one, evaluate the immediate danger he or she is in. Ask these four questions to determine their risk for suicide:
1. Do you have a plan?
2. Do you have what you need to carry out your plan?
3. Do you know when you would do it?
4. Do you intend to take your own life?
When a person has a plan, the means to carry out their plan, has a timeframe for when they would do it, and intends to take their own life, they are at the highest risk for committing suicide. Always err on the side of caution. If you have any concerns someone you know is considering suicide, intervene.
Help Them Get Help
Remove any potential means the person may use to commit suicide, and reach out to a suicide helpline for advice on how to help your loved one. Encourage your loved one to enter therapy to discuss their problems and begin to develop a plan for addressing them. Continue reaching out to your loved one by phone, text, and in person after the immediate crisis has passed.
“I want to kill myself”- it can be one of the scariest things to hear from a loved one. If you have knowledge of how to help someone who is suicidal, you will be better prepared to intervene if you need to. Remember to look for warning signs, reach out, evaluate danger, and help your loved one get the care they need to address their issues and improve how they are feeling.
If you are looking for professional help for a loved one who is suicidal, consider The Light Program. Check out our programs to see how we can help today.