One million is the rough number deaths by suicide each year. That’s 16 people for every 100,000, and one death every 40 seconds. While you’re sitting at your desk working your nine to five jobs, 720 people have chosen to take their lives leaving their loved ones behind to agonize over the countless possibilities that could have been. The good news is, everyone can make a difference if they want to, even you. Helping out a friend in need does not take tremendous effort – it takes tremendous care. Here’s how you can make a difference in one person’s life:
Voicing Out Your Concerns
If you suspect that a friend or family member is having thoughts about taking their life, speak up. Address your concerns to them no matter how awkward you feel the conversation will be. If you were wrong about your gut feeling, so be it. But what if you were right? There’s no way you could make a person more suicidal by bringing up the issue. In fact, talking to them gives them a chance to express their feelings and doubts, and they would feel less lonely thus decreasing the risk of their suicide. To broach the subject, try opening with lines like “I have been concerned about you lately” or “You seem different lately, is everything OK with you?”. Your listening ear might just save a life.
Be All Ears
It doesn’t just stop at asking. Listening plays a major role as well in helping someone feel less lonely and burdened. Be sympathetic, be patient. Let your friend or family vent and rage as much as they want to a pair of non-judgemental ears. Do not lecture them about what is right and wrong, argue with them about their thoughts of taking their lives, or offer ways to fix their problems. Just listen, be yourself, and offer hope. Let the person know that their situation, although intense, will eventually get help if they get the right support and help.
Do NOT Promise Confidentially
Whatever you do, try as hard as you can to avoid being sworn to secrecy about their suicidal thoughts. If the situation worsens, you might have no other option left than to seek the help of a professional, thus breaking your promise.
Chances are, those who are suicidal already feel alone in this world with no one who can help them. Saying something like “Call me if you need anything” won’t really do much good. Be proactive in your efforts by calling them, dropping by, doing an activity together or going for a movie date.
Remove All Tools
If you know your friend is suicidal, try to remove all means of self-harm by taking away pills that have been stocked, guns or firearms that have been bought, and any sharp objects that can be used to take a life until you’re sure that your friend or family member is better.
Get Professional Help
If you feel you are unable to deal with the situation, get help from professional psychologists, suicide prevention groups, or a crisis line. Encourage your friend to attend sessions of a support group, and make sure you constantly call them to follow up on their progress. If you successfully initiated and convinced the person in need to seek professional help, try to get the centre to keep you updated on the appointments to come so that you can be more active in your encouraging efforts.
WHAT TO DO IN A CRISIS
If you suspect or receive a phone call from your friend or family telling you that they are planning to take their lives immediately, the first thing you need to do is keep a calm mind. No good will come out of panicking. Next, do the following:
- Determine the risk
Assess if the person has the plans, means and true intention to carry out the threat. Ask directly if you have to. Once you’ve determined that the threat is immediate, –
- Call 911 or an Ambulance
Or drive him to an emergency room if you think that it will be quicker.
- Head over to where he/she is
Make your way immediately to the person’s location, or if you’re unable to, inform a mutual friend to do so.
- Remove all tools of self-harm
Once you reach the him/her, remove all tools that can be used (even remotely) to carry out the deed.
- NEVER leave the person alone
Whatever you do, NEVER leave the person alone. Be with him/her as long as it takes for help to arrive.
*If you’re in Malaysia, the Befrienders is a body that aims to help and support those with depression and suicidal tendencies. Their hotline is available 24-hours at +603-79568144 or +603-79568145.
360 Celsius in Support of
Suicide Prevention Week 2013