This month is suicide awareness and we want to clarify one detail that is sometimes missed. When someone makes a suicidal statement, you need to take it seriously. The risk is too great, accidents can certainly happen.
It does not matter if it is the first or tenth time, you need to assume its going to happen. Casual statements of “I just don’t want to live anymore” that might be seen as trying to make someone feel bad are not appropriate and should continue to be met as a real crisis.
What Should I Do If Someone Makes A Suicide Statement?
Please do not feel like it is your job to decide if someone needs to be hospitalized or not. There are very specific procedures to determine if someone needs to be put on medical watch or taken to a psychiatric hospital.
Instead, take these actions that are provided by the National Alliance on Mental Health:
- Remove means such as guns, knives or stockpiled pills
- Calmly ask simple and direct questions, such as “Can I help you call your psychiatrist?” rather than, “Would you rather I call your psychiatrist, your therapist or your case manager?”
- Talk openly and honestly about suicide. Don’t be afraid to ask questions such as “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” or “Do you have a plan for how you would kill yourself?”
- If there are multiple people, have one person speak at a time
- Don’t argue, threaten or raise your voice
- Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong
- If your loved one asks for something, provide it, as long as the request is safe and reasonable
- If you are nervous, try not to fidget or pace
- If your loved one is having hallucinations or delusions, be gentle and sympathetic, but do not get in an argument about whether the delusions or hallucinations are real
As always, you can, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline Website at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If the person is unwilling to talk or seek help, contact the police via 911.