I certainly didn’t intend to write on this topic today, or any day, for that matter. Being a happy person surrounded by other happy people, and being the hell out of the social work profession, has stopped the flow of suicidal folks in my life. Yet as I eagerly scrolled down my Facebook account to see what was up in my world, I was overwhelmed with acute sadness when I saw a high school classmate had posted the photo of our friend who committed suicide when we were in our early 30′s. It was so devastating. Rob was the LAST person you ever would have pegged to kill himself. A series of severe misfortunes proved too painful, and Rob chose to leave our world. I felt the need to share this information so that maybe you will know how to approach and assist a friend or family member who you suspect is suicidal. Doesn’t mean that if you do, they will choose help and decide to stay. All we can do as loved ones and mental health clinicians is try our best to help. The rest is up to them.
So how do you know that a loved one is considering suicide? Common signs are frequently talking about death, stating there is no hope for their situation, becoming withdrawn, giving away treasured items, and guilt. It gets even hairier if they already have a psychiatric diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, or schizophrenia.
How to approach them? First, tell them you have noticed they seem very depressed, hopeless, or whatever it is that is worrying you. Ask if they are suicidal. Ask how they feel. Be open to listening. Suggest they get help. If they are getting help and are still suicidal, suggest they talk to their therapist about inpatient hospitalization. I know it is hard to broach this subject, but your intervention may be what saves their life.
For a very detailed and accurate article about suicide prevention, give this a twirl:
Please share this too. You never know whose life might be spared if more people become aware of this information.