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Suicide prevention (part 2)

People with suicidal behavior extremely need help. To provide this help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and similar hotlines are available 24/7. When you call them, you will be connected to a local counselor who will assist you immediately and refer you to the local mental health facility.

How to Help Others

If you know the right steps, you can provide critical help. What you certainly have to do is to be attentive to the warning signs, reassure the person that you understand them and give the continuous support. Do not leave the suicidal person alone and make sure that they have no means at hand to commit suicide. Other do’s and don’ts include:

  1. Be authentic, honest, and open. You do not have to say that the world is perfect and they should stay in it. Just show that you are really concerned.
  2. DO NOT argue. Argumentative statements, such as “you feel wrong,” “you have so much to live for,” or “you will hurt your parents,” will not help.
  3. Listen more, talk less. Let the person share all their feelings, emotions, and frustrations with you. If they want to express themselves, it is a good sign.
  4. DO NOT lecture. Never shame or judge people for their thoughts. Your opinion about them is not important in this situation.
  5. Be understanding, patient, and calm. Let the person open up to you.
  6. DO NOT swear to secrecy. Understand that you may need help of a mental health specialist if the person’s life is at risk. Do not give promises to avoid breaking their trust.
  7. Be direct. Do not be afraid of discussing the topic openly. You will not put any ideas into the person’s head if you listen to them and show your concern.
  8. DO NOT offer advice. Your solutions, however good they can be, will most likely seem unrealistic to the suicidal person.
  9. Offer hope, encouragement, and unconditional support. Tell how you value their life and convince to seek professional help.
  10. DO NOT blame yourself. Even when you do your best, you cannot fix one’s problems or control their actions. So, do not take responsibility for repairing their mental health on yourself.

How to know if it is an emergency:

  • Drastic changes in the person
  • Withdrawal from all social activities
  • Inability to maintain a schedule (including going to work or study)
  • Participation in risky behaviors (including alcohol and substance abuse)
  • Involvement in uncommon harmful situations (including abusive relationships)

What to do if it is an emergency:

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255
  • Do not leave the person alone; if you have to leave, ask someone else to stay with them
  • Remove all weapons and substances that can be used for suicide attempt
  • Take the person to a clinic or emergency room
  • If you are in danger yourself, call 911

Remember that your timely actions can save someone’s life.