Suicide prevention can feel like a scary topic. So scary it’s difficult to talk about. And the key to prevention is to begin talking about it so that life saving strategies can be employed to help the person recover and feel better. In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, we would like to take some time to provide helpful information to support you, or someone you love, if experiencing thoughts of suicide.
How to help a loved one experiencing suicidal thoughts:
1. Ask them to reconsider.
Thinking about death can be scary and alarming. It’s okay to question what is causing a person to think about death, dying or suicide. Those who experience thoughts of dying will benefit from empathetic reminders of why it’s not a viable option, loving reasons to live, and hopeful things to look forward too, also known collectively as protective factors. We are all deserving of life, and finding out how we find meaning in life is a big part of the journey. Being on the side of living and creating a life one can find value in are crucial to personal well-being.
2. Genuinely show you care.
When I’m worried about a friend, I encourage them to reach out to people they trust. I ask them to specifically think of who they would call. I don’t need to know who, but they do. To be able to reach out we have to give genuine consideration to whose number to dial. Family, friends, colleagues, peer support, warm/hot lines, mental health professionals, crisis and emergency services. I encourage identifying multiple people and numbers, and to begin reaching out.
3. Encourage them to find a mental health professional to work with.
What if we don’t have the capacity to help our loved one? Refer them to someone trusted, trained in mental health and available to field the task of being present with mental health resources to aid the person in need. Demonstrate what reaching out looks like by reaching out for your own support as well. Prevention lines also support loved ones seeking to receive guidance for themselves in difficult times. It’s okay to feel a moment of worry about making “the right” choice; please know that seeking help to ensure the safety of your loved one by referring them to someone who can help them is a correct choice.
If you or someone you love is experiencing thoughts of death, dying or suicide please reach out and encourage others to reach out also. You are not alone.
888.724.7240 San Diego Access & Crisis Line
800.273.8255 Suicide Prevention LifeLine
Text Crisis Line: Text “Home” to 741741
In emergency, call 911
Vista Hill SmartCare Integrated Behavioral Health Team is here to support you! If you live in our neighboring rural communities of Valley Center, Ramona, Campo, Alpine or Julian contact us at (760) 788-9725 to get connected with a Behavioral Health team member.
Selena Kradolfer Scanlan, LMFT, Behavioral Health Consultant