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5 Steps to Help Prevent Suicide
5 Steps to Help Prevent Suicide ~ Ways to help your loved one in their most challenging moment!
Suicide is a serious problem that affects people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 800,000 people die by suicide yearly, making it the 18th leading cause of death worldwide. Suicide is preventable, but it requires a proactive approach. I want to discuss five steps you can take to help prevent suicide.
The first step in preventing suicide is to ask the person if they are considering suicide. This may feel uncomfortable, but it is essential. If you are worried about someone, start by expressing your concern and asking if they are okay. Be direct and ask if they are considering suicide. Many people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts feel relieved when someone asks them about it. It gives them an opportunity to talk about their feelings and can be a first step toward getting help. When you suspect a loved one may be contemplating suicide, it is not the time to be subtle or to withdraw.
If the person says they are experiencing suicidal ideations, stay with them and listen to their feelings. Do not judge or minimize their pain. Let them know that you care about them and want to help. Encourage them to seek professional help and offer to help them find resources. If they are in immediate danger, call emergency services right away.
If the person denies having suicidal thoughts but you are still worried, be persistent. Let them know that you are there for them and encourage them to seek help if they need it.
Remove Access to Dangerous Items
If you know someone who is struggling with suicidal ideations, it is important to remove access to dangerous items such as firearms, medications, and sharp objects. This can help prevent impulsive suicide attempts. If the person lives with you, make sure that these items are stored in a secure location. If they do not live with you, encourage them to remove these items from their home or ask someone they trust to store these items for them.
It is also essential to remove any toxic substances, such as cleaning products or chemicals, from the person's home. If you are unsure what to do or need help, contact a mental health professional, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or emergency services for guidance.
Get Them Connected
Connecting the person to supportive individuals and resources can help prevent suicide. Encourage them to contact friends, family members, or a mental health professional. If they are uncomfortable talking to someone they know, suggest a helpline or online support group. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 and can provide support and resources.
If the person is willing, offer to accompany them to their first appointment with a mental health professional. This can help alleviate some of their anxiety and provide support.
It is important to note that not all mental health professionals are created equal. Encourage the person to find a therapist or counselor who specializes in treating suicidal ideation and has experience working with individuals who are struggling with suicide.
Help Them Find Resources
There are many resources available for individuals who are struggling with suicidal thoughts. Encourage the person to explore these resources and find the ones that work best for them. Some resources to consider include:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
- Trevor Project (for LGBTQ+ youth): 1-866-488-7386
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: https://afsp.org/
After you have talked to the person and helped them find resources, it is important to follow up with them. Check-in with them regularly and ask how they are doing. Let them know that you care about them and are there for them. If they are seeing a mental health professional, ask if they are finding the treatment helpful. Encourage them to continue seeking help if they need it.
If the person is not improving or getting worse, do not hesitate to seek additional help. Contact their mental health professional or emergency services for guidance.
Suicide is a preventable tragedy, but it requires a proactive approach. By following these five steps, you can help prevent suicide and support those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts. Remember to ask, remove access to dangerous items, get them connected, help them find resources, and follow up. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, do not hesitate to ask for help.