If You Fear a Loved One May Commit Suicide

Helping a FriendThe recent suicides by celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have increased our awareness that suicide can affect anyone. Statistics show that suicide rates are rising dramatically. People are being urged to reach out if they need help but if someone reaches out to you, would you know what to do?

Here are some suggestions of things to do if you think someone is considering suicide:

If You ThinkThey Are in Danger

Getting them to a professional is key to starting them on the road to recovery. You can take them for an evaluation at a mental health hospital or to your nearest hospital emergency room.

If They Will not Cooperate

You may have to involve law enforcement. Contact your local mental health center and ask them about the steps in your state or county to have someone evaluated. You may have to complete paperwork and take it before a judge who will order local law enforcement to pick up your loved one for an evaluation at a local emergency room or mental health facility.

When to Intervene

  • Look for the most common warning signs:
    • Has their behavior changed in dangerous or concerning ways – increased alcohol or drug use, exhibiting risky behavior
    • Are they talking about death or suicide
    • Do they isolate from friends and family
    • Are they seeking closure – giving away things, preparing wills, making amends, or saying goodbyes
    • Have they experienced a loss or change in their lives, for example, have they lost an important relationship or a job, did they experience a change in their health
    • Have they attempted suicide before or has anyone in their family or circle of friends attempted suicide.

What to Say and Do

  • Don’t be afraid to talk about suicide. Speaking of suicide does not give someone the idea to commit suicide.
    • Ask if they have a Plan for how they will do it
    • Find out if they have the Means to carry out that plan.
    • Ask them about their Motivation – how will suicide help.
    • Finally, ask about their Resistance – ask what stops them. Often when you start talking to people about why they don’t want to commit suicide, you can help them start to seek help.
  • Tell them you cannot stop them from suicide but let them know how you feel about them dying. Let them know how it will impact you and others, how important they are to others. Don’t try to dissuade them from their feelings and thoughts but share with them how you feel about them and their situation.
  • Don’t keep suicide a secret – Sometimes we think we are protecting our friends by not telling others what is happening but usually we are protecting the problem and hurting our friend. Get support for them and for you by talking about it and encouraging them to talk about it with supportive people.
  • Ask if they have a counselor – and encourage them to call and get an emergency visit. If that’s not possible, then try to get them to an emergency evaluation center or contact the authorities as outlined in the beginning of this article.

It’s important that you get support for yourself and for your loved one. If you think you need professional help, contact us for help and support.