Understanding And Helping The Suicidal Individual
Be Aware Of The Warning Signs
If you or someone you know exhibits any of the following signs, seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional, calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
- Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself.
- Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, pills, or other means.
- Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person.
- Feeling hopeless.
- Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge.
- Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities — seemingly without thinking.
- Feeling trapped — like there’s no way out.
- Increasing alcohol or drug use.
- Withdrawing from friends, family, and society.
- Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time.
- Experiencing dramatic mood changes.
- Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life.
- How do you remember the warning signs of suicide? Here’s a mnemonic device that can help you remember the basic signs:
IS PATH WARM?
- Substance Abuse
- Mood Change
Are You Or Is Someone You Love At Risk Of Suicide?
Suicide Is 100% Preventable If You Know The Signs And Take Action.
- Be aware. Learn the warning signs.
- Get involved. Become 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. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
- Don’t dare him/her to do it.
- Don’t give advice by making decisions for someone else, or by telling them to behave differently.
- Don’t ask ‘why’. This encourages defensiveness.
- Offer empathy, not sympathy.
- Don’t act shocked. This creates distance.
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
- Offer hope that alternatives are available, do not offer glib reassurance; it only proves you don’t understand.
- Take action! Remove means! Get help from individuals or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
- Be Aware of Feelings, Thoughts, and Behaviors
Nearly everyone, at some time in his or her life, thinks about suicide. Almost everyone decides to live because they come to realize that the crisis is temporary, but death is not. On the other hand, people in the midst of a crisis often perceive their dilemma as inescapable and feel an utter loss of control. Frequently, they:
- Can’t stop the pain.
- Can’t think clearly.
- Can’t make decisions.
- Can’t see any way out.
- Can’t sleep, eat or work.
- an’t get out of the depression.
- Can’t make the sadness go away.
- Can’t see the possibility of change.
- Can’t see themselves as worthwhile.
- Can’t get someone’s attention.
- Can’t seem to get control.
If you are concerned about a family member or friend, show you care and ask the question: Do you feel suicidal? Trust your gut instincts — and if you’re concerned, help get the person to support services that can help. If the person can’t open up to you, find someone else who can talk with that person.
If you are unsure but still concerned, call the Crisis Call Center to speak with one of our trained volunteers today. Don’t delay. Your concern could save a life. Call 1-800-273-8255.