It’s never easy to watch someone you care about struggle. Whether that person is a child, a parent, a friend, or a neighbor, it’s easy to feel like there’s nothing you can do to keep them safe or make things easier. Since many people facing mental health issues are lost to suicide, this helplessness can be extremely scary for loved ones.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your loved ones’ risk of suicide. His Heart Foundation is dedicated to helping people and communities develop and maintain strong mental wellbeing. In that spirit, we have gathered some tips for suicide prevention, as well as a guide on how to intervene in the event of a mental health emergency.
Lower Barriers to Care
Mental illnesses often make seeking treatment impossible. Here’s how to make that easier for your loved one:
Make Yourself a Judgement-Free Zone
Be the person they can turn to.
- People who struggle with suicidal thoughts often feel so much shame that they think they can’t talk to anyone.
- If your loved one tells you they’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, remain calm.
- Learning your loved one is suicidal is scary, but avoid making the revelation about you. Focus on their needs, and cope with a trusted friend or therapist later on.
- Learn about the difference between passive and active suicidality. Someone who feels passively suicidal still needs medical care, but they may not need to go to an ER. If they are actively considering suicide, you should use the emergency resources below.
- If it is not an emergency, ask them what they need from you. Avoid offering advice unless they ask.
Recognizing and Handling an Emergency
The right interventions can save your loved one’s life.
- Learn how to recognize the signs that someone is planning to attempt suicide.
- If someone tells you they are actively suicidal, drive them to an emergency room or, if you are not physically with them, call 911.
- Continue to support them after the emergency has passed. Many people stabilize in treatment, but regress due to a lack of support in their day-to-day lives.
- Encourage them to engage in healthy coping tools and commit to ongoing therapy.
Suicide is a huge challenge, and it’s one people shouldn’t have to face alone. When we come together as a community, we help lighten the load for those with the heaviest burdens. Keep these resources on hand and use them to be the person your loved one needs.
Want to help break the stigma of mental illness? Join His Heart Foundation today to create a new narrative.
A big thank you to Jennifer McGregor of www.publichealthlibrary.org for contributing this post!
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