A suicide attempt should never be seen as a bid for attention. Depression tends to come back, especially if it’s not treated or is only partially treated. Caring for someone who is experiencing mental health issues can be a stressful experience, especially if they tend to have thoughts about self-harm. If you think the person you’re caring for might be suicidal, you probably have a lot of urgent questions, like how do you know when they’ve reached a crisis point, and when should you call 9-1-1? In this video, we’ll go over what to do if the person you’re caring for is suicidal.
Caring for someone who is experiencing mental health issues can be a stressful experience, especially if they tend to have thoughts about self-harm.
If you think the person you’re caring for might be suicidal, you probably have a lot of urgent questions, like how do you know when they’ve reached a crisis point, and when should you call 9-1-1?
In this video, we’ll go over what to do if the person you’re caring for is suicidal.
Some common myths about suicide include the idea that talking about suicide creates suicidal thoughts; the idea that once a person is suicidal there’s nothing you can do to help them; and that not all threats of suicide or self-harm need to be taken seriously.
In fact, talking about suicide does NOT create suicidal thoughts, interventions CAN be effective at preventing suicide, and all threats SHOULD be taken seriously.
If the person you’re caring for tells you that they’re having suicidal thoughts or if you think that they are suicidal, here’s what you can do.
First, start with a conversation. Remember that talking about suicide will not make them more suicidal. Ask them directly if they are feeling helpless or if they’re thinking about killing themselves. Hear them out, and try to respond with empathy so that they feel like they’re not alone.
Empathy means that you try to see things from their view, so you can understand and share their feelings.
By doing this, it can help you to not judge them or minimize their feelings. Although it may be tempting, try to avoid telling them what to do or persuading them that suicide isn’t the right option, as this can sometimes make a suicidal person feel more isolated.
Do your best to remain calm, since your calmness may help them to calm down as well.
If they still seem suicidal after talking through their situation, ask them if they have a plan and attempt to get the details on how, where, and when they’re planning to do it. If they have access to the means to kill themselves, such as weapons or narcotics, try to remove access to these means if it’s possible and safe to do so.
It’s crucial that you keep your own safety and the safety of your family in mind. If at any point during your conversation you start to feel unsafe, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Continue to encourage the person you’re caring for to agree not to kill themselves for a manageable period of time. This manageable period is typically the time it takes for a response to a 9-1-1 call, a connection to a crisis hotline, or contact with other trusted resources, like a close friend.
If outside resources are available, help the person you’re caring for get in touch with them, and stay with them until the trusted resource arrives. Don’t leave someone who’s suicidal alone unless you feel like your own safety is in jeopardy.
Just by having a conversation, you can play a big role in supporting someone who is suicidal. You can also help to overcome the stigma that surrounds suicide, which can be a huge barrier when it comes to seeking out treatment.
If the person you’re caring for tells you that they are not suicidal, it doesn’t make having the conversation a mistake; you have taken the opportunity to show your concern, and have let the person know that you’re there for them in a crisis.
Caring for someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts is not easy, but by remaining calm and engaging them with empathy and compassion, you can help them get through it.
If you need more support, additional resources are always available for you on our CareChannel website.