Suicide can be a difficult topic to bring up to someone who is struggling. You may be wary of asking the person if they are thinking about suicide. You must, however, start the conversation. Many people believe that asking someone if they are thinking about suicide will plant the seed. This just isn’t true; in fact, it’s necessary to ask. We may be fearful, but fear gets in the way. To make a difference, you must make the hard decisions. How can you start the conversation? The National Alliance on Mental Illness has some guidelines. Pinnacle Recovery will expand on them below.
Ask the question
You cannot beat around the bush when it comes to suicide. Doing this awkward dance makes everyone uncomfortable. If you have been observing signs that you may think has a connection to suicide, you must ask the person if they are thinking about suicide. There is no other way.
Be familiar with the resources
If you’ve asked the question and the response is “yes,” you must know the resources that are out there to help prevent suicide. Direct the person to programs in your community that can help them. Give them the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number (1-800-273-8255), or the Crisis Text Line number (741741 in the U.S.). These can be lifesaving tools for someone struggling with suicidal thoughts.
Find comfort in the uncomfortable
Talking about suicide can be uncomfortable for all of the involved parties. The feelings associated with suicide are serious. It can be an intense conversation to have, but it’s a necessary one. Keep in mind your emotional well-being as well. Don’t let your feelings get swept away by the conversation. You matter, too.
Create a safe space
Find a private place. This isn’t a conversation to have in the middle of a restaurant or the mall. You don’t want to be interrupted. You want to be respectful of the other person. Take the time to show them you are fully invested in the conversation.
Tell them what you’ve noticed
It’s essential to tell the person that you have been looking out for them. Talk about specific situations that you have seen that you are concerned about. Talk to them about changes in their mood or behavior. Show them that you care.
Ask open-ended questions
Give the other person time to talk, too. Have them explain how they’re feeling. Don’t just ask questions that can be answered with a “yes” or a “no.” Be open-ended. Give them the space to vent.
Practice active listening
Show the other person you are listening to and fully involved in what they are saying. Try not to give advice or minimize their problems. Just listen.
Pinnacle Recovery knows that suicide can be a difficult topic to discuss. We’re here to help. Call 1-866-301-0573 now to learn more about the programs we offer. We want to hear from you. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.