With all of the depression and anxiety many of us are experiencing lately, we have to acknowledge the fact that there is a sense of or feeling a loss of hope, a feeling or a loss of motivation for a lot of individuals and people who are struggling and suffering today. We need to help individuals that we know that are struggling through these emotions. There are a few signs that can alert us to someone who is contemplating suicide and knowing them can help save a life. The signs of someone suffering from suicidal ideation include:
• The person is constantly devaluing their own worth
• The person begins giving away their possessions
• The person has a history of suicidal ideation or deep depression
• The person has experienced tremendous and/or repetitive loss Remember that suicide is not about weakness. It’s about feeling hopeless, alone, and uncertain about a way through a difficult time. Someone who is thinking about taking their own life needs help and healing not judgment, dismissal, or ridicule. Now that we know some of the signs, we can talk about how to help someone who may be thinking about suicide.
Be Direct: If you think someone is contemplating suicide, ask them directly if they are thinking of taking their own life. There is a myth that asking about it encourages it, but that is not true. Asking directly brings light to a dark subject and shows concern at a time when the person may feel that no one notices or cares about what they’re going through.
Show Up to Listen, Not Judge: Whether you show up by phone or in person, be ready to listen and avoid judgment. If the person is willing to talk about what they’re feeling, listening with an open, nonjudgmental heart and mind can make all the difference.
Create a Safe Environment: If you have access and it’s possible, try to remove any weapons, pills, or other substances that may be used for suicide. Ask the person if there is a place they would feel more safe, more secure, and more supported and try to get them there.
Provide Resources: Share resources about clinicians, suicide hotlines, and crisis hotlines. Offer to help them make the call, be there while they make it, or make it for them. Resources like suicide.org, suicidepreventionlife.org, the Trevor project (which focuses on LGTBQ youth), crisistextline.org, and texting 741 741 puts the power to stop suicide at our fingertips.
Check-In, Follow-Up: Be there in the days that follow. The aftermath of suicidal ideation can bring some of the most difficult times and hardships to light. Check-in with calls and visits to remind the person they are not alone, that they are valued, and have community.