Interacting With Someone Who May Be Considering Suicide

What You Can Do 

Listen. It is vitally important that people in an emotional crisis have someone who will listen and really hear what they are saying. Try to establish a connection with the feelings beneath the words.

Ask about suicide. Be up-front. Are you thinking of suicide? Theres no harm bringing up the subject. Often the individual will respond to the question and is glad to have the opportunity to bring the issue out in the open.

Take any mention of suicide seriously. Do not undervalue or dismiss what the person is saying. Some patients may express feelings in a low key manner, but behind this apparent calm may be profound distress. It is better to be overly cautious than not cautious enough.

Dont judge. Just be there. The problem may seem insignificant to you, but remember that the pain it is causing the person is great enough to make them consider suicide. According to David Conroy, PhD, author of Out of the Nightmare: Recovery From Depression And Suicidal Pain, It is not how bad the problem is, but how bad it is hurting the person who has it.

Dont handle it alone. Have the number of your local Suicide Hotline readily available (you can find it in the front of your telephone book). A local number is best but there is also a national crisis number that can be used: 800-999-9999.

Get professional help. Suggest counseling or if you are with someone who is suicidal, take them to a crisis center or emergency room.

Remember this. You can offer support, compassion and hope to a suicidal caller or friend, but the ultimate action of that person cannot be controlled by you. Its not your fault if someone makes the decision to complete a suicide.

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