If you think that your loved one is suicidal, we understand how scary that might be. We know you might be afraid that you won’t say the right thing or you may not be sure how to get them the help they need.
If someone you love is contemplating suicide, here are some ways you can help them:
- Just ask them – No, you don’t want to be brash, but you want to approach them with compassion. There’s a myth that if you talk about suicide prevention, it’ll increase the chances of someone taking their own life. However, that’s not true. Ask them, again, with compassion, about if they’ve had thoughts so bad that they’ve thought about death or ending their life. Also be prepared, if the conversation goes well, with follow up questions that can help them get the proper care they need.
- Tell them you love them – Letting your loved one know how much you love them and care for them, as well as offering help, can go a long way for them.
- Get them out to do things they love – Oftentimes, when someone is suicidal, they’ll shut down and cut themselves off from doing the things they love or seeing the people they love. Encourage your loved one to continue doing the things they love. Or, you can even encourage them to try new experiences or activities.
- Encourage them to seek help – You can even do most of the legwork by researching good psychologists or asking for a referral, and actually taking them to their appointments. Doing this will help them to see how much you care and how important it is that they get the help they need.
- Take them to the hospital – If it seems like your loved one has a plan and you’re afraid to leave them alone, take them to the ER and wait with them while they get assessed.
- Don’t minimize self-harm talk or behaviors – Downplaying or ignoring red flags can only make the situation worse. Instead, when your loved one talks about hurting themselves, open up the floor for a meaningful, supportive conversation that then allows for them to seek further help.
- Build a support team – You can’t expect to help your loved one all by yourself. That’s why building a support system is crucial to both you and your loved one. Recruit other friends or family members to form a network that will provide support and love.
- Don’t brush off cries for attention – The last thing you want to do is ignore them when they need attention. The best thing to do is show that you hear them, show that you understand what they’re going through, and that you’ll help them get the help they need.
- Offer to be their emergency contact – If they should ever need someone they can call or text in a pinch, offer to be their emergency contact. Depressed people often feel like they have no one in their life that truly cares about them or that they have no one to turn to. Being an emergency contact is a simple way to show that they’re not alone.
- Look for signs – When someone is preparing to take their own life, they might prepare by calling loved ones, giving away belongings, writing letters, or creating a will. There might even be some signs that are subtle, so be sure to keep an eye for any other changes that have occurred in their behavior. When approaching them about your worries, mention how their behaviors have changed, while also at the same expressing your love and concern for them.
With suicide being the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, it’s important to keep these tips in mind if your loved one is suffering.