If a friend or loved one is thinking about suicide, he or she needs professional help, do the following ten (10) things;
1. Encourage the person to call a friend or make a toll free number for help.
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2. Encourage the person to seek treatment. A suicidal or severely depressed person may not have the energy or motivation to find help. If the person doesn’t want to consult a doctor or mental health provider, suggest finding help from a support group, crisis center, faith community, teacher or other trusted person.
3. Offer to help the person take steps to get assistance and support. For example, you can research treatment options, make phone calls and review insurance benefit information, or even offer to go with the person to an appointment.
4. Encourage the person to communicate with you. Someone who’s suicidal may be tempted to bottle up feelings because he or she feels ashamed, guilty or embarrassed.
5. Be respectful and acknowledge the person’s feelings. Don’t try to talk the person out of his or her feelings or express shock. Remember, even though someone who’s suicidal isn’t thinking logically, the emotions are real.
6. Don’t be patronizing or judgmental. For example, don’t tell someone, “Things could be worse” or “You have everything to live for.” Instead, ask questions such as, “What’s causing you to feel so bad?” “What would make you feel better?” or “How can I help?”
7. Never promise to keep someone’s suicidal feelings a secret. Be understanding, but explain that you may not be able to keep such a promise if you think the person’s life is in danger.
8. Offer reassurance that things can get better. When someone is suicidal, it seems as if nothing will make things better. Reassure the person that with appropriate treatment, he or she can develop other ways to cope and can feel better about life again.
9. Encourage the person to avoid alcohol and drug use. Using drugs or alcohol may seem to ease the painful feelings, but ultimately it makes things worse — it can lead to reckless behavior or feeling more depressed.
10. Remove potentially dangerous items from the person’s home, if possible. If you can, make sure the person doesn’t have items around that could be used for suicide — such as knives, razors, guns or drugs.
Psychologist Chad Buck created a helpful acronym for keeping some of the tips mentioned above in mind:
Believe that suicidal comments or gestures are serious.
Engage in conversation about thoughts and feelings.
Listen without judgment or arguing.
Investigate intent and access to lethal means.
Express empathy for the person and situation.
Validate how difficult and painful this is for them.
Encourage them to seek support and escort the person to access help.
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