Worldwide Suicide Prevention Week is September 10-16, 2017. It is a week to affirm our commitment to helping ourselves and others and to acknowledge that we sometimes struggle and that reaching out isn’t weak: it’s strong.
How do you help someone who’s suicidal?
A suicidal person may not ask for help, but that doesn’t mean that help isn’t wanted. Most suicidal people are ambivalent – they don’t want to die – they just want to stop hurting.
Here are some “Don’ts” that apply to anyone who might be suicidal:
• Do not leave him/her alone or let him/her go off alone
• Do not be judgmental
• Do not argue, debate, analyze, or moralize
• Do not try to cheer him/her up
• Do not try to shock or challenge (i.e., say “Oh, go ahead and do it if you want to!”)
• Do not accept “I’m okay now.” (Nobody recovers immediately from suicidality.)
• Do not be sworn to secrecy
• Do not feel like you have to manage this alone: get help from the University Counseling Center, Resident Ministers, or other resources on campus.
Here are some “Do’s”:
• Ask if he/she is thinking about suicide
“Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
“Do you think you might try to hurt yourself today?”
“Have you thought of ways that you might hurt yourself?”
“Do you have pills/weapons in your room?”
• Take the intent or threat very seriously
• Show that you care and say it
If you see any of these warning signs, there is IMMEDIATE, APPARENT DANGER:
• Weapons, pills or other means visible or talked about (“I know where my dad keeps his gun.”)
• The person has a clear plan (“I’m going to get in my car tomorrow and drive off of the Causeway.”)
• The person voices intent (“I want to end my life, and I’m going to kill myself.”)
If there is no apparent immediate danger (and no lethal means in view):
• Tell her/him that help is available and you can see that he/she gets it.
• Call the UCC and speak with the counselor on-call: 504-865-3835 (press 1)
If there is apparent immediate danger – ACT:
• Say that you are getting help
• Call LUPD at (504) 865-3434 and tell them “I’m with someone who is suicidal.” They will help you get emergency services.
Remember: You cannot predict death by suicide, but you can identify people who are at increased risk for suicidal behavior, take precautions, and refer them for effective treatment.