Is your loved one at risk for suicide? Suicide is shockingly high among people who struggle with substance addiction. It’s important to be aware of the risks and be able to reach out to your loved one if they’re entertaining thoughts of suicide.
Signs of Suicide Risk
Many of us miss the signs that lead up to suicidal behavior. Sometimes this is simply because we don’t want to offend, or because we’re afraid to face the true challenges before us. However, it’s important to let a person who is considering suicide know that they’re not alone, and that you’re listening. Don’t ignore these signals that could mean that someone is entertaining thoughts of suicide!
- talking about suicide or self-harm (often, this is in a joking way, so don’t be fooled by a flippant manner)
- saying goodbye to people, things, and situations that they care about
- seeking out means to hurt themselves
- preoccupation with death, or even an obsession
- lack of hope
- self-destructive behavior
What Can You Do To Help?
Since shame and isolation are some of the strongest factors that can lead to suicide, the best thing you can do is reach out and connect with the person at risk. Open a conversation, and listen honestly to their struggles. Let them know they’re not alone, and encourage them to seek professional help. While suicide can be a terrible thing to bring up, it’s important that someone has that crucial conversation in order for the individual to heal and find help.
Remember while you discuss this somber subject that connection has proven to be a much more effective intervention technique than arguments like “but you have so much to live for” or “suicide is wrong and sinful.” Refrain from judgement, and listen with an open mind and caring attitude.
If someone you know is at risk of suicide, and you find yourself needing to intervene in an emergency, follow these steps:
- Remove any items they can use to kill themselves.
- Get professional help immediately. Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- Keep connected and talking until professional help comes.
If your loved one is undergoing treatment and taking positive steps to counter suicidal behavior, it’s important to continue to support them. Be proactive, and reach out and invite them to participate in group activities that will get them hopeful, motivated, and planning things for the future. Continue to talk with them honestly and encourage them to share what they’ve learned. Be a cheerleader when you see them making positive changes in their lifestyle.