Unfortunately, the number of suicides is on the rise throughout America. While some people think that suicide prevention is something that should be left to the professionals, there are certain things that you can do to help your loved ones. Since a loved one has more of a relationship with you than they do a ‘professional,’ it is important for them to feel loved and supported to help prevent their suicide.
Keep these 5 things to know about suicide prevention and response in mind if you have a loved one who is having a difficult time.
- Know the risk factors for suicide. While there are many risk factors for suicide there are a few main ones. Make sure to look out for depression or other mental illness, drug or alcohol abuse, impulsivity, past suicide attempts by self or other family members, or demographics. Men are most likely to complete suicide, and LGBTQ adolescents attempt suicide at a rate 3-6 times that of heterosexual youth.
- Know the warning signs. While 50–75 percent of people who complete suicide gave warnings of their intentions to a friend, teacher, pastor, or family member, it is important to listen and be present in case of other warning signs. These warning signs include intense feeling of shame and guilt, feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, unexpected rage or anger, or difficulty focusing.
- Know about suicide prevention. Encourage them to get help and reassure them that therapy is not for ‘crazy’ people. Help them find access to a supportive community, such as a church. It is also important to let the person know that they are not alone, and that there is help out there.
- Know how to respond to someone who is suicidal. Never leave a person who is suicidal alone, even to seek help. Eliminate any access to anything that could be used for harm, including medications, razors, or guns. Keep in mind that depressed individuals are sometimes hesitant to seek help and will need your help and support to pursue treatment.
- Know that healing is possible. The first step to getting better is recognizing there is a problem and asking for help.
For help dealing with a suicidal loved one, or for more information about suicide prevention, contact the Community Presbyterian Counseling Center in San Ramon.