Take the First Step – Reaching Out to Someone At Risk of Suicide
Suicide is always a tragedy. While the reasons that may lead someone to consider suicide are often very personal, suicide is by no means an isolated problem. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, with 2018 seeing about 1.4 million suicide attempts and 48,344 deaths by suicide in that year alone. Suicide is something that requires professional help in order to address the many factors involved in its complex situation.
Often times, those at risk of suicide are also exhibiting symptoms of other detrimental behaviors or mental health disorders that they suffer from each day. Reaching out to someone can be a difficult thing to do, but can ultimately save the life of a loved one. As a result, it is important to be prepared for what to do if someone begins to exhibit signs that they may be considering ending their own life.
Looking for Signs That Someone Is at Risk
While each situation is different when addressing suicide and suicide prevention, there are certain signs that someone can look for to determine if someone is at risk for suicide. Those who are at risk may begin to engage in riskier and riskier behaviors, seeming to put less emphasis on their own safety and wellbeing. They may also begin to give away their possessions, even things that they had once treasured.
Someone may begin to completely withdraw from their families, friends, and their own interests, or seem to wall themselves off from the outside world. During this withdrawal, people may begin to express a shift in priorities, or simply disregard their responsibilities entirely, while others may begin to try to get many aspects of their lives in order as part of their plan.
This can involve frantically cleaning one’s room and ensuring that there is care ready for any pets. When someone considering or planning for suicide does interact with others, their language may be filled with absolutes, or they may even slip into constantly using the past tense. Words like “inevitable,” or language of hopelessness may permeate through even casual conversations, all of which should raise concern. Using words like suicide or variations on ending one’s life may even be spoken, and should be taken seriously, even if used in a joking tone of voice.
How to Reach Out
Suicide prevention is a proactive stance and thus requires someone to begin to act immediately when they suspect that a family member or loved one may be at risk of suicide. It is important to take these signs seriously. When it comes to suicide prevention, there is no “overreacting.” It is better that someone begins to do everything in their power to help as early as possible, even if it may seem bothersome or annoying to another, rather than wait to find out if something was or was not a joke.
Reaching out involves more than one interaction. If someone is suspected of being at risk of suicide, it is important to keep as much contact with them as possible. Stay with the person physically and try to do things together, if possible. In the event that someone has to be left alone for whatever reason, it can be beneficial to try to get others to come and spend time with them in one’s stead. Keeping constant contact through other means, such as phone call or text message, are highly advised not just to keep tabs on someone’s emotional state, but also as a constant reminder to the person that they are not alone.
Suicide prevention will also involve asking difficult questions, like “are you considering killing yourself?” Such a loaded question is difficult to ask, let alone hear. However, it can also help break down some of the barriers that someone has set up around themselves. Someone may be feeling very alone, or as if nobody understands the pain that someone is suffering on a daily basis. While that may still be true, it does indicate to the person that there is someone who is paying attention and cares about them. This direct confrontation forces the person to address the question head-on while sitting next to one of their support people and can open up a genuine, and potentially life-saving, dialogue.
When asking these questions, be ready for an answer that may be difficult to hear. Be prepared with literature or researched information on different programs around one’s area that may specialize in suicide prevention or addressing the underlying issues involved with suicide, such as depression or substance abuse. Addressing suicide and suicide prevention will always involve addressing the various personal, mental, emotional, and environmental factors that have led someone to consider suicide as a viable option for them.
These conversations will be difficult, and addressing the reasons that someone may consider suicide will take a lot of time and effort. However, there is no fast way to address the underlying issues that often come with thoughts of suicide. Professionals will be an essential part of addressing many of these aspects, but suicide prevention always begins with sincere, genuine care and attention being paid to a loved one, their actions, their words, and their overall wellbeing. Don’t be afraid to take the first step!
Suicidal ideation is difficult to overcome and involves addressing many different factors in someone’s life. Mental illness, addiction, or trauma can all be potential paths to considering suicide, it can be difficult to know where to start. At Brighton Recovery Center, the professionals provide the space for each person to address each of these different aspects of their own lives, with trained specialists ready to help with each unique case. On a large, 6 building campus, each person has the space to explore their own identity and healing processes alongside each other in an intricate recovery community. With inpatient and outpatient care, as well as a recreation center available for both people in treatment and alumni, the sense of community instilled at Brighton is important in addressing the unique needs of each individual. For more information on how Brighton Recovery Center can help you, call today at (844) 479-7035.