How Can I Help Someone Who Has Mentioned Suicide?

Jun 07, 2023
How Can I Help Someone Who Has Mentioned Suicide?
Depression is a severe mental health issue that can lead to suicidal thoughts without treatment — but how can you help when someone you know feels suicidal? Read on to find out how you can help someone who has mentioned self-harm.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide was the 12th leading cause of death in the United States in 2020; in fact, it claimed the lives of over 45,000 Americans that year.

If you or someone you love is depressed and contemplating suicide, you aren’t alone. Help is available.

At Pacific Phoenix TMSDr. Elia Gonzalez-Rodriguez and her team offer immediate care for suicidal thoughts and severe depression.

Dr. Gonzalez-Rodriguez is an experienced psychiatrist providing treatments like transcranial magnetic stimulation and ketamine for quick relief of depression and suicidal ideations.

Signs of suicidal behavior

For those suffering from severe depression, suicide is often the tragic conclusion. Although sad, it's usually preventable by recognizing the signs and symptoms of someone contemplating suicide.

It's crucial to understand the behaviors and signs associated with suicide, especially if someone you know or love is living with depression. Knowing the signs can frankly save their life by intervening and suggesting help.

A few of the most important signs to be aware of if someone is talking about suicide include the following:

  • Giving away important belongings
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Frequently have mood swings
  • Avoiding social interactions
  • Using drugs or drinking excessively
  • Taking extreme risks
  • Searching online for suicide
  • Talking about being a burden
  • Talking about hopelessness
  • Expressing they have no reason to live

Never write someone off who’s talking about suicide. It isn’t normal with typical stress, meaning there's more going on with that person's mental health.

How to address suicidal talk

When someone expresses extreme unhappiness or thoughts that they no longer want to live, you must step in and offer any help. Simply being there for that person and listening profoundly affect their mental health.

There are several options to consider when you have a loved one or friend who’s hurting mentally and emotionally. including:

Be supportive

When someone is considering harming themselves, they're severely hurting emotionally. The best thing you can do is be supportive, listen to their feelings, and empathize with what they're going through.

Listen intently and show that you're committed through your body language. Avoid trying to fix any issues they have, as that isn’t what they need at that time.

Ask a lot of questions

After listening closely to your friend or loved one, it's time to start asking questions. Not everyone is forthcoming with suicidal thoughts, so it's imperative you ask a few crucial questions, such as:

  • Are you thinking of hurting yourself?
  • Have you contemplated dying?
  • Do you think the world is better off without you?
  • Have you ever tried to harm yourself?
  • Do you have a plan?

If your friend or loved one says they have serious intentions on hurting themselves, ask plenty of questions. You need to determine if they have the ability to carry out their idea.

The next steps are critical, depending on how much they've been thinking about suicide and whether they have a plan.

Suggest seeking professional help

If there’s no plan, but the person is thinking about self-harm, suggest they seek professional help as soon as possible.

You shouldn't try to force them to do so, though. You must suggest a therapist would be able to help them through their emotions and thoughts, with you by their side for support.

Pay attention to their behaviors

People experiencing suicidal thoughts often have different behaviors than they did before. For example, they may sleep often, have severe mood swings, or avoid spending time with family and friends.

If you notice strange behaviors or someone withdrawing, step in, show support, and ask questions. You could save their life.

Know when to act immediately

Sometimes, people only think about hurting themselves but have no plan. However, if you determine your loved one is serious about dying, you must act quickly for their safety.

You can reach out to many resources. Among the most important of those resources is the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, which offers 24/7 support and resources for people who are contemplating suicide.

Simply dial 988 on your phone or request a chat on the website suicidepreventionlifeline.org for immediate help. You can also text NAMI at 741741 to get expert text support over the phone.

If you're concerned about the safety of someone you love, call 360-828-7802 to reach our team today at our convenient offices in Salmon Creek or East Vancouver, Washington, or request an appointment on our website.