Questions To Ask Someone Who Is Suicidal

Questions To Ask Someone Who Is Suicidal – Trigger Warning: This webinar contains personal stories of suicide. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK.

W. Carson Felkel II, MD, FAPA – Greenville, S.C. Psychiatrist and Systems Medicine Director at Bon Secours Mercy Health.

Questions To Ask Someone Who Is Suicidal

Debbie Thomas, EdD, APRN, PMHCNS-BC, PMHNP-BC, CMP – Professor Emeritus at the University of Louisville School of Nursing; Owner and Medical Director of Here & Now Psychiatric Services in Louisville, Kan.

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Based on data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (ASFP) reports that suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. In 2019, more than 47,000 Americans died by suicide and there were an estimated 1.38 million suicide attempts, according to the organization.

Conversations around suicide are often fraught with misunderstandings and driven by fear. Cultural assumptions and misunderstandings can add to the stigma around suicide. Guilt, shame, and blame can prevent honest conversations that can lead to healing.

Recognizing the warning signs of suicide can start by learning about the unique ways a loved one tells stories, how they act and/or how they express anxiety, says Dr. Felkel said. He explained that actively listening for changes in how a person communicates can help identify cues that may indicate heightened emotions or intent to self-harm.

Bembry said families should pay close attention to their loved one’s behavior after major life changes. A new illness, life transition or loss of a spouse are potential triggers for suicide risk.

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Dr. Thomas advised to be aware of your own feelings along with those of your loved ones. Feeling like you are a burden to others, wanting to disappear, or sudden changes in your behavior may indicate that something is wrong and that help may be needed.

Certain actions—such as giving away items or language changes—Dr. According to Thomas, it can also indicate a change in one’s outlook on life.

Nevertheless, Dr. Thomas and Bembury acknowledge that not everyone has a loved one watching closely, and sometimes the signs of distress aren’t obvious. That’s why it’s so important for family members and friends to check each other’s health regularly.

“It really starts with asking someone how they’re feeling and really listening,” says Dr. Felkel added. “If you don’t ask, sometimes they won’t tell you.”

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Dr. According to Thomas, people should reach out for help when they have suicidal thoughts, even if they intend to pursue those thoughts. Dr. “They don’t have to decide if the reach is bad enough — they just reach,” said Dr. Thomas. That’s because these thoughts can grow over time, Thomas said.

Dr. Felkel notes that it can be typical for people to think about dying, especially when they live in a “hard, broken” world.

“I think this brokenness and this idea that we get into our heads that we want to die comes from repressed feelings, like our resources don’t match what we need to succeed,” says Dr. Felkel said.

He explained that if a person struggles with suicidal thoughts on a daily basis and cannot get past those thoughts, emergency help may be needed. Ideally, people can contact an outpatient therapist, outpatient psychiatrist, or primary care provider who can direct the suicidal person to the appropriate level of care.

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Bembry often sees patients who have a “better than dead” feeling, where older adults may have lost many loved ones and have chronic illnesses that make them no longer want to live. She says these comments are common and even understandable in some older patients with chronic pain and may be separate and distinct from true suicidal thoughts. However, Bembry says that if those comments turn into talking about death, wishing for death, and trying to cause death, that’s different from having a “better than dead” feeling. In these situations, caregivers may ask their loved one if they intend to harm themselves. If the answer concerns the caregiver, they should contact a trusted healthcare provider and explore treatment options.

As a youth and child psychiatrist, Dr. Felkel shares advice that “the best thing parents can do is keep an open line of communication with your kids.”

Although he admits it’s easier said than done, being quiet and non-reactive when listening to children can help children trust their parents when they describe their challenges. Having this open dialogue can give parents a better chance to recognize and identify warning signs.

If a teenager is going home from an inpatient psychiatric ward, Dr. Felkel shared that it is important for parents to understand what is reasonable and realistic. Increased supervision is a common component of safety plans when youth return home, but continuous supervision can be unrealistic and difficult for patients and their caregivers.

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Dr. Felkel also noted that it’s important to take all mentions of suicide seriously, “and when you do that, you also run the risk of paying attention to negative behavior that can pay off, as you should. It’s not bad in itself, but it can create a cycle where kids will act out negatively because unfortunately it gets their parents’ attention, and at the end of the day, that’s what kids want most for their loved ones. Be with them.”

Instead, after a child has expressed suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide, Dr. Felkel recommends quality time, praise and positive attention. Dr. Thomas agrees: “Kids get hundreds of negative messages a day compared to positive ones. We take it for granted, but we get rid of all the negative stuff.”

For adults and older individuals, Bembry says it is important to reconnect people with their purpose in life and their need for socialization, as social isolation can be a risk factor for suicide. “Being able to connect socially with people on social media or the Internet is probably a good thing,” Bembury said.

Encouraging people to lean on their faith, church groups, reconnecting with family members or having a pet are all ways to help those with suicidal thoughts find their place in the world around them, Bembry recommends.

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Correspondingly, Dr. Felkel said taking time to volunteer or serve others can help people take some of the focus out of their struggles and give them a purpose bigger than themselves.

Each provider shared advice that can help suicide attempt survivors, others and their loved ones recognize and manage suicidal thoughts.

Bembry said an important first step is to remove access to suicide pathways, which can help reduce the likelihood that a person will attempt suicide during a crisis.

Dr. Thomas creates personal safety plans with his patients that share resources but invite patients to enter emergency contacts and what steps they would take if seen in the dark.

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In times of crisis,” Dr. That’s because people in crisis often don’t make the best decisions, Felkel said. Instead, it is better to plan during times of peace and put those plans in writing.

If a loved one appears to be suffering, the person can ask three to six questions from the Columbia Protocol of Family, Friends, and Neighbors to understand what type of care is needed:

Our articles are for informational purposes only and are reviewed by our medical informatics team, which includes PharmDs, MDs, and PhDs. Do not make any changes to your current medication or dosage without consulting your doctor.

This test should only be ordered and used in consultation with a healthcare provider who can prescribe medication. As with all genetic tests, test results have limitations and do not constitute medical advice. Test results are designed to be only one part of a larger, complete patient evaluation, which will include proper diagnosis and your medical history, other medications you are taking, your family history, and other factors.

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If you are a healthcare provider and are interested in learning more about the trial, please call us at 855.891.9415. If you’re a patient, talk to your doctor to see if testing might be helpful.

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Trigger Warning: This webinar contains personal stories of suicide. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK. W. Carson Felkel II, MD, FAPA – Greenville, SC Debbie Thomas, EdD, APRN, PMHCNS-BC, PMHNP-BC, CMP, Psychiatrist and Director of Systems Medicine at Bon Secours Mercy Health … Read more

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