How Do You Help Someone Who Is Suicidal – Mental Health Foundation’s Dr. Antonis Kousoulis shares information and tips on suicide prevention and explains how important a friendly conversation or simple kindness can be.
Sometimes we really want to help someone else who seems to be struggling, but we don’t know where to start and we’re worried we’ll make things worse. Suicide can seem scary and overwhelming, so it’s natural for many of us to want to “look the other way” – who can you talk to about it? But there’s good news: talking to someone who cares about you can be incredibly helpful.
How Do You Help Someone Who Is Suicidal
Evidence from people nearing the end of their lives and the many who help them show that even when suicide is imminent, a friendly conversation or a simple act of kindness can make an important difference.
Suicide Prevention: Local Resources For Those In Crisis
At the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), we want to help people find hope for others. With this summary, we conclude with some basic ideas for helping another person in crisis.
W stands for Watch: Watch for signs of distress. For example, withdrawal from contact with others, excessive quietness, irritability, irrational anger, and talking about death or suicide.
You may worry that asking about suicide will overwhelm someone or push them toward it. But the opposite is true: asking about it reduces the chance of suicide and can start life-saving conversations. Being able to talk about their feelings will help others feel recognized, validated, and better.
I mean “this shall pass”: the other person’s feelings of self-inflicted self-induced self-flow will be confirmed in time. It’s not the same now, but it could be better.
What Is Suicide? Risks, Signs & Preventive Treatment
T stands for Talking to others: Encourage the other person to seek help from a GP or other healthcare professional.
It is natural to feel anxious, fearful or uncomfortable talking to another person who is grieving and having them talk to you about self-harm. It’s not something we usually talk about. Try to remember to be able to talk about their feelings, as well as the care and concern you show them.
If the person you are helping is so worried that they are at risk of harming themselves, try to keep the conversation going and seek emergency help. Call 999 or offer to accompany someone to Accident and Emergency.
Please do not underestimate how much helping someone else who feels they are ending their life can affect you. Take some time to debrief and find support for yourself
How To Help Prevent Suicide In A Teen Or Child
Rethinking Mental Illness also offers good advice on how to get help, including when and if to visit a hospital’s A&E department.
If you prefer to learn through e-learning rather than reading, this free, 20-minute online training on how to help someone who wants to end their life may be for you. This is provided by Suicide Zero (NHS organisations, companies and individuals).
There are also numbers to call for people who want to end their lives – as well as for those who support them or are concerned about them:
A really important point: Please don’t underestimate the impact of helping another person who wants to end their life. Take some time to debrief and find support for yourself. Talking to family or friends can be enough, or you can call a helpline or take some time to focus on yourself.
How Can I Help Prevent Suicide?
It is clear that thousands of people in the UK are currently not getting the support they need to survive an emotional crisis.
According to the latest official UK figures, more than 6,500 people took their own lives in 2018. This means that the suicide rate has increased for the first time since 2013. Some of the increase may be due to changes in the way coroners in England and Wales record the cause of death, but it is too early to know by how much.
Men over the age of 40 are most at risk, although women in the same age group are also at risk of suicide.
All of this can make you feel powerless to help someone who is feeling hopeless, even if they just want to stay alive. The good news is that you are wrong
Mental Health Awareness, Not Dismissing Concerns The First Steps In Helping Loved Ones With Suicidal Thoughts
Sadly, the latest figures show girls and young women aged 10 to 24 are the most affected by suicide in the UK. Although very few of them take their own lives, the number has increased significantly since 2012.
At MGF, we are concerned, but not surprised, by these trends because they are consistent with how people feel, such as rates of self-harm and evidence of painful experiences that include shame.
The personal story leading to suicide is always complex and unique, and often continues for many years.
However, evidence also shows that economic austerity contributes to suicide rates, with financial uncertainty, unemployment and persistent inequality all affecting, along with wider factors such as poor health, isolation and discrimination.
Risk Factors And Warning Signs Of Suicide
Why more girls and young women take their own lives is never easy to explain, but potential contributing factors include violence, family abuse and trauma.
Another influence can be the feeling of never being good enough, which is common when faced with a flood of images of perfect people through social media, advertising and pornography. MGF’s research has revealed that girls in particular feel ashamed in the face of such images.
All of this can make you feel powerless to help someone who is feeling hopeless, even if they just want to stay alive. The good news is that you are wrong. Between 1999 and 2016, the suicide rate increased at least 6% in 49 of the 50 states, with some states seeing increases of 58%. In 2017, more than 47,000 people died by suicide in the United States.
Nebraska’s data mirror national trends. In 2016, the last reporting year from the Centers for Disease Control, suicide was the leading cause of death for 10-14 year olds and the second leading cause of death for 15-34 year olds (CDC National Vital Statistics System).
Suicide: Suicidal Signs, Behavior, Risk Factors, How To Talk & More
Suicide rates are higher among farmers than the general population. Factors contributing to increasing tension in agrarian society:
As the death toll from suicide continues to rise, Nebraskans must come together to help each other. Suicide prevention starts with knowing what signs to look for and how to help.
Learn to recognize common signs that someone is experiencing too much stress in their life and that stress can lead to suicidal thoughts (see box).
It’s important to remember that suicide is a possibility, and you can help! You can help someone in crisis get the help they need.
Why I Won’t Tell Someone Who’s Suicidal To ‘just Ask For Help’
Figure 1. Nebraska Regional Behavioral Health Office to Contact for Suicide Prevention. (Links to larger versions.)
Also see the Nebraska Extension flyer, Connecting in Hard Times – Resources for Nebraska Farmers, Ranchers and Their Families. It provides contact information for emergency services as well as financial intermediation services.
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