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Helping the Suicidal

Viewer discretion: this contains critical and intense information about helping the suicidal. Please note that this blog may not be for everyone, but it is helpful information for someone in need. If you or a loved one are at risk of suicide, please use the following information because we care about you and want to help you.

In a crisis call or text 988.*

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

As Bakken-Young Funeral and Cremation Services host the next webinar on “Living with the Shadow of a Suicide Death” with Ciara Warden, the following important information should be shared about helping the suicidal. This information will bring awareness and help you help someone.

Suicidal Feelings

If someone is having suicidal thoughts, it is because they no longer wish to live and feel hopeless. This means they do not see a way out of life nor feel valued. A person must get support if they feel this way.

The feelings that come with suicidal thoughts may be similar to grief.

Have you felt despair? Darkness inside you? A feeling like you can’t escape and are lost in a pit of blackness? Experiencing depression and sadness so deep it cuts far within you? Feeling like a burden to everyone around you? Self-loathing? These are all feelings someone who is having suicidal thoughts experiences, and some of these may be similar to grief. Everyone experiences these feelings differently and expresses them in different ways. 

Warning Signs of Someone Who Is Suicidal

You must be aware of the warning signs of someone who is suicidal. This information will save a life.

Here are things you should look out for; if a person is distancing themself from social interactions, acting like everything is okay and not wanting to talk about how they’re doing, switching the subject off of them, practicing self-harm like cutting or consuming drugs, purchasing weapons, sharp objects, or cords that is out of character, and self-destructing words like, “I’m not good enough,” “I should kill myself,” or, “I wish I were dead,” or, “I wish I wasn’t born.” These phrases can be said slightly indirectly as they may not want to draw attention to themselves, for example, joking they would rather hurt themself in a specific way than participate in an activity and laugh about it.

According to Psych2GO they may also be giving away prized possessions, asking about suicide, taking self-destructive risks, changing their will or writing one out of the ordinary, exhibiting strange sleeping patterns, having low energy and little motivation to do activities that make them feel better, show emotional outbursts, and body language like slumped shoulders, lack of eye-contact, and looking at the floor. They may also walk extremely slow if they are a fast-walker. They may also appear happy or calm and spend a lot of time in bed. This is dangerous and happens when they are near the lowest point when they execute their suicidal plan. If they do not find joy in their passions anymore, this is a massive warning sign. For example, if they loved horseback riding their entire life but no longer want to ride, this may be a contributing factor they are suicidal.

Not all of these are exclusive to suicide alone, nor will an individual exhibit all of these behaviors if they are suicidal. It is important to ask a professional if you are worried about someone.

Actions You Must Take Toward Helping the Suicidal

There are actions you must take if someone is suicidal, especially if they are in crisis presently.

These are as follows:

  • If they are not answering any messages and are spending time locked in their room, you must go and check on them.
  • If someone is in immediate crisis, you must NOT leave them alone under any circumstance.
  • Remove any harmful objects from them if they are close to going through with their suicide.
  • Call 911 if you can or have someone near do so.
  • Guage if they are under the influence and bring them to the nearest hospital.

There are also questions you can ask if you aren’t sure. According to Mayo Clinic, you can ask:

  • How are you coping with what’s been happening in your life?
  • Do you ever feel like just giving up?
  • Are you thinking about dying?
  • Are you thinking about hurting yourself?
  • Are you thinking about suicide?
  • Have you ever thought about suicide before or tried to harm yourself before?
  • Have you thought about how or when you’d do it?
  • Do you have access to weapons or things that can be used as weapons to harm yourself?

In all, one of the most important actions you can take is to be present for them and ask them how they are truly doing.

Be There

It can be challenging to understand all this information, let alone remember it. The most important thing you can do is to be physically and emotionally there. Support them. Hug them. Tell them, “You deserve to live,” or “I love you,” or “I’m here for you,” and even “I might not have the right words to say, but I will listen to you,” would suffice. If you tell them you will be there for them and support them, that will make a difference. Remember that “Actions speak louder than words.” By showing up for this person and helping them, it will save them.

Find grief resources here.

Resources for Suicidal-Minded Individuals

In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat. Services are free and confidential.

U.S. veterans or service members who are in crisis can call 988 and then press “1” for the Veterans Crisis Line. Or text 838255. Or chat online.

NAMI HelpLine is available to connect by phone 800-950-6264 or text “Helpline” to 62640, or chat.

The Suicide & Crisis Lifeline in the U.S. has a Spanish language phone line at 1-888-628-9454 (toll-free)

13 Suicide and Crisis Intervention Hotlines to Call or Text When You Need Help

Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741

Resources for Helping the Suicidal

Suicide: What to do when someone is thinking about suicide

How to Help a Loved One Struggling With Suicidal Thoughts

Help Someone You Know Who is Suicidal

How to Help Someone Who Is Suicidal – An Interview with Dr. Mark Goulston.

BetterHelp | Professional Therapy With A Licensed Therapist

Resources and Support for People Bereaved through Suicide

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)  

If you have lost a loved one to suicide, it can be a relief and a healing experience to talk openly with fellow suicide loss survivors about what you’ve lived through. AFSP makes the support group listings directory for suicide loss survivors available as a public service and does not run, recommend, endorse, or fund any of the groups listed.

American Association of Suicidology(AAS)

Information and education regarding suicide. Most helpful is the link for bereavement support offering these resources: Beyond Surviving: 25 Suggestions for Survivors and Helping Survivors of Suicide: What you can do?

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