Suicide prevention and awareness is such an important topic, one that’s critical to talk about.
This year, for World Mental Health Awareness Day, the World Health Organization has chosen to focus on suicide prevention.
More than 800 000 people die by suicide every year. That’s one person every 40 seconds. In fact, it’s the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds globally.
Talking about suicide can be incredibly difficult. But if you’re concerned about someone you love, the conversation needs to happen. Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life.
Suicide Prevention: Warning Signs
Someone in crisis may not ask for help. Suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs and taking them seriously.
Warning signs that might suggest someone is at risk of suicide include:
- Thinking or talking about suicide
- Having a plan for suicide
These are often outright signs. And they’re a definite call for help that should never be ignored. But they’re not the only ones that you should watch out for.
Other signs and behaviors may include:
- A withdrawal from family or friends
- Increased substance use
- Anxiety or noticeable mood changes, such as anger or sadness
- Talking about being a burden to someone
Any of these could be an indication that someone is dealing with something and it is time to have a conversation.
How to help someone in crisis
Again, having a conversation about suicide can be difficult, but it can mean a great deal. Talking honestly, responsibly, and safely about suicide can help you determine if someone needs help, and it may save a life.
First and foremost, remind the person that they’re not alone, that you’re there for them and will help in any way you can.
If you want to help someone in crisis, try:
- listening and showing concern – showing concern can be an immediate way to help someone
- talking with them and reassuring them that they don’t have to go through it on their own
- letting them know you care and want to help
- connecting them with a crisis line, counsellor, or other trusted person
How to start the conversation:
- I’ve been feeling concerned about you lately.
- Recently, I’ve noticed some differences in you and wondered how you’re doing.
- I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.
During the conversation, there are some things to do and things to avoid:
- Listen, because sometimes that’s the crucial first step
- Be patient, calm, and never judge
- Reassure them that help is available for them and that they deserve to get it
- Remain positive, and try to offer hope that things will get better
Can you ask if they’re feeling suicidal? Yes. If the person says something like, “I’m so depressed, I just can’t do this anymore,” it’s ok to ask “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” You’re not putting the idea in their head. Above all, you’re voicing your concern and showing them that it’s OK for them to share their pain with you.