Suicide is preventable. Truth is: most suicidal individuals want to live; they are just unable to see alternatives to their problems.
Truth so true: When I was 32, I was severely suicidal. I could see no end to my problems. The pain was all consuming and unbearable. My anxiety level was very high. I could hardly hold my hand still. Death seemed the only way out……..Yet, I really wanted to live.
My husband was a fierce and loving support. He asked how I was feeling. He was there for me, helping me connect with professional treatment. He kept me safe and supported. That someone who knew my worst thoughts about myself accepted me, warts and all, was invaluable. Most of all he taught me to have hope in life again.
The experience of being suicidal at that time and at others times in my life has created in me an empathy for all those who attempt or commit suicide.
Here are some principles of suicide prevention, principles that are used by prevention specialists across America. Please learn them and commit to suicide prevention.
If you think someone might be considering suicide, be the one to help them by taking these 5 steps:
- KEEP THEM SAFE
- BE THERE
- HELP THEM CONNECT
- FOLLOW UP
Be Aware of the Warning Signs
Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
Increase in alcohol or drug use
Withdrawing from friends, family and society
Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
Dramatic mood changes
No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
Here is some advice for responding to someone in despair and considering ending their life:
(From Mental Health America of Wisconsin)
- Be aware. Learn the warning signs.
- Get involved. Be available. Show interest and support.
- Ask if he/she is thinking about suicide.
- Be direct. Talk openly and freely about suicide.
- Be willing to listen. Allow for expression of feelings. Accept the feelings.
- Be non-judgmental.
- Debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or feelings good or bad.
- Lecture on the value of life.
- Dare him/her to do it.
- Ask why, as this encourages defensiveness.
- Act shocked. This creates distance.
- Be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
- Offer glib reassurance; it only shows you don’t understand.
- Empathy, not sympathy
- Hope that alternatives are available
- Remove means!
- Get help from individuals or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE
1-800-273 talk (8255)