September is Suicide Prevention month and we would like to share with you the campaign that was created by the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Their focus this year was to better educate people on how to aid in preventing suicide by encouraging them to “Be the one to help save a life.”
Suicide is a tricky topic to navigate and it can be uncomfortable to discuss it with others but studies have shown that acknowledging suicidal thoughts and discussing them can significantly reduce those feelings and actions. Using the five steps outlined here, the hope is that a small conversation or effort could make a big difference for someone who may be struggling with suicidal considerations.
The Five Steps:
- ASK: Ask this person if they are considering suicide or have attempted suicide. Find out if they have determined plans for suicide and what means they have considered using. All of this information is important in understanding the severity of the situation.
- Approach them in a non-judgmental way so that they feel supported
- Listen intently and take them seriously
- Ask them why and how they are hurting as well as what they feel could help ease those emotions
- Focus on the positive things that they mention and demonstrate the importance of those things in their life
- Do not ever promise to keep this person’s consideration of suicide a secret as you may need to communicate this to the proper individuals to keep them safe
- Do not stress the reasons that you want them to be alive, instead focus on them and the good they have in their lives so that they can find personal strength and reasons to move away from suicide
- KEEP THEM SAFE: After hearing a little bit about what they are struggling with, it is important to assess what may be needed to keep them safe and stable.
- Evaluate how close they have come to suicide and what might be triggers of that
- Assess what means and methods they may have mentioned and encourage time and distance from those
- Do your best to establish safety measures based on the conversation you have had and reduce their access to lethal means
- Take matters into your own hands in heightened situations. If the threat is immediate and out of your control it will be important to source professional assistance to insure someone’s safety
- BE THERE: Connection to people has proven to be helpful in suicide prevention so we would encourage you to continue to be there for someone who is struggling.
- Make time to call or visit this person
- Continue to listen to what the person is going through and feeling
- Reinforce positive thoughts and aspects of their life
- Try to determine any other people that this person may be open to speaking with and encourage those conversations
- Make promises or commitments that you are unable to keep as this could be more damaging/discouraging to someone who is suffering
- HELP THEM CONNECT: Ultimately the presence of professional resources is going to be very useful for someone who is considering suicide.
- Discuss the many resources that are available including the Suicide Prevention Lifeline and professional counseling services so that this person can begin to receive more significant care and attention
- Measure their openness and knowledge of what is available to them and assist them if they may lack the resources or confidence to act on seeking help
- Do not be forceful in your suggestions to seek further help as this could be off-putting to someone. Instead be sure that you are always being open and asking questions of this person’s willingness and desire to take steps towards healing.
- FOLLOW UP: Once you have assessed the severity of the situation, talked to the person and connected them with resources for healing- it is important that you follow up to see how they are doing.
- Check in to see if they have made progress or if the suicidal thoughts have subsided
- Continue to encourage connection with other people and resources that can keep them on the path toward healing
- Don’t abandon this person after getting them to the point of receiving professional help. Ultimately connection with people in their daily life will be important in partnership with their professional treatment for them to truly overcome suicidal thoughts/actions. Be a stable and trustworthy resource and support for them.
This process is about suicide prevention and encouraging the overall wellness of those who are suffering. We all can play a role in that! We would like to reiterate that suicide is extremely serious. If you should choose to have these discussions with someone who is struggling, it is very important that you are aware of when the situation is serious enough to require immediate action by professionals.
For many more resources and information on this we encourage you to check out the Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s full and detailed 5-step process for “Being the one to help save a life” at https://www.bethe1to.com.
And of course, if you or someone you love is struggling with suicidal thoughts, feel free to give Cornerstone Counseling a call today.