What do I do if someone I know is having thoughts of suicide?
Do not try to reason people out of their thoughts of suicide. You shouldn’t say things like “You have everything to live for”, or “Think about your family and the devastation you’ll cause.” What you should do instead is show compassion and concern by saying, “Things must certainly be terrible for you right now to cause you these feelings.” Be there for them and let them know you’re listening. Reassure them that it’s okay to express their feelings. Agree that there are times when people feel so despondent they feel like there is no other answer, but with treatment they can feel better about things. Make sure they know you are there for them and will help them find help. Find out if they have made any suicide plans. If they have, you cannot leave them alone. Look around and remove any drugs, firearms or anything else they could use to carry out their plans. Immediately take them to get help from a mental health professional, doctor or the emergency room at the hospital. If they won’t go with you, call 911.
If someone is determined to end their life, what can I do to stop them?
When someone is experiencing thoughts of suicide and talking about or thinking of ending their life, they almost always have mixed or conflicting feelings about this. Most of the time feelings of wanting to die arise out of a sense of hopelessness, feeling out of control, and a feeling that they are helpless to change things. What you can do is offer encouragement and actively assist them in finding the help they so desperately need.
What can I do if my suicidal friend refuses to get help?
For someone in this situation, who is feeling so depressed and anxious that they are having thoughts of suicide, the thought of opening up to a mental health professional or doctor might seem scary or even hopeless. In their state they are thinking that suicide is the only way out, the only way to stop their pain. Just continue to reassure them that you understand and that you are worried about them and keep suggesting that a trained professional will also understand but will actually be able to help them out of their depression and get them feeling better. Be there to listen to them in a non-judgmental way and let them know that you are willing to help them find the professional treatment they need. You need to find a way to get them to a mental health professional, a doctor or the emergency room. If there is no other way, call 911.
I heard that if someone has thoughts of suicide or talks about suicide they aren’t really going to do it. Is that true?
No. Most people who take their life have told someone what they’re thinking before they actually commit suicide. If someone actually tells you that they are contemplating suicide, they are giving you the opportunity to help them before they take action. Any mention of suicide needs to be taken very seriously.
What should I do if I get uncomfortable just thinking about talking to someone who’s actually thinking about suicide?
Many of us were taught to think that people who commit suicide are selfish, immoral or crazy. When we begin to understand that suicidal thoughts and behavior comes from feeling completely helpless, overwhelmed and hopeless, we are not so fearful and are more able to listen and show empathy towards our loved one who is in so much pain. We learn that it’s not up to us to judge them. Even if it’s hard and very uncomfortable for you, just listening to them and giving them some encouragement that treatment can help will benefit them. Just let them know that you’re there to help, available and that you care.
Because our treatment for depression and anxiety programs rely on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods for suicide prevention. The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression and other mental health disorders associated with thoughts of suicide. In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies. Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting. It is also important to keep in mind that women and men often experience depression differently and therefore the presence of depression may also appear differently based on gender. If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or anxiety, including PTSD, and is thinking of suicide, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan for depression that can result in recovery. Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful. People who have completed our program have provide very high consumer satisfaction scores and reviews. Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.