It’s hard to talk about suicide Fifa 18. If you’ve never lost anyone this way (or thought about it yourself) it’s tempting to think of suicide as taking ‘the easy way out’ – or as a distant sadness, the way we felt when the news broke that Robin Williams had taken his own life. But how do you talk about suicide in a real and helpful way? If someone you know is at risk, you can ask a simple question, even though you may not be a psychologist. Let’s look at the risk factors, and then we’ll give you the question.
How do you know if someone is at risk?
It’s important to know that not all of these factors mean possible suicide attempts, but the risk is higher if they pile up on each other.
- Isolation due to illness, bullying, disability, injury, age or circumstance.
- Big life changes – job loss, coming off medication, divorce or the loss of a loved one.
- Substance abuse or addiction.
- Financial difficulties.
- Irrational or erratic behaviours.
- Access to means, such as weapons.
- Suicidal intention.
- Family history of suicide, connections to others who have died by suicide.
“I’ve seen that you’ve been feeling down lately. Are you thinking about hurting yourself?”
This question won’t push someone who isn’t suicidal into suddenly thinking about it – nor will it cause someone who’s thinking about suicide to act on it. Instead, it gives them an opening, a way out of the isolation where they’ve been alone with their growing stress and anxiety.
What happens if they say “Yes”?
Don’t panic if the person answers “Yes”. Encourage them to talk. Listen to them. Offer support, and get them to a doctor or an emergency room. Don’t let them go alone, and stay with them until the situation is stabilised. There’s a big chance that the person will say that they weren’t serious, but gently follow up and keep an eye on them. Here is a list of emergency numbers where you (or they) can get help. Use them.
Some practical step for you to follow
- This is time to get professional help. Call one of the crisis numbers we’ve given you above for advice on how to get the person to agree to treatment, and ask them for local referrals.
- Help the person to locate a doctor or treatment facility.
- Take them to a doctor’s appointment.
- Quietly remove potential means of suicide like razors, pills, knives, or firearms. Lock away medications that could be taken as an overdose.
Support and recovery
Your loved one or friend will need long-term support after the crisis – stay in touch and drop in for visits. If they want to attend a therapy group, volunteer to go with them to the first meeting. Thank you for being a friend.
Joanne Hart for HelloDoctor.com