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Tools for Helping a Loved One with Suicidal Thoughts

3 min read

Information in this article may be triggering to some people.  If you have a loved one who has expressed suicidal thoughts, there are many ways you can be of support including calling the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). 

If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

There is always help. 

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We asked therapist Chris Smith to share some do's and don'ts to help you navigate this serious situation. Read on for his tools... 

If someone has expressed suicidal thoughts or tendencies don't minimize their feelings or tell them it's not a big deal. It is a big deal and your reaction can encourage someone to get the support they need. There's a chance that you might be the only, or the first person that they've ever talked to about this, honor that.  
-Don't judge or say, it's a sin.
-Don't tell someone they're being weak. Don't ignore it. Suicidal thoughts are serious. Take them as such.
-Don't choose not to talk about it. If someone tells you, they're thinking of suicide, again, take them seriously.
-Don't mock or make fun of them. 
- Please try not to get frustrated. I know this can be scary for you and alarming, but please chances are they're frustrated with themselves. So treat them with warmth and empathy. 
- Please don't say you have nothing to be suicidal about, that's not helpful. 

There are many ways however you can be of help... 

Do listen to them. If someone says they're suicidal, listen, and believe them.

Do get them help from a mental health professional. 

Do sit with them either in person or over the phone. 

Do ask, “are you thinking of killing yourself now?”  I know this may be hard for some people to ask this question, but it really is a myth that talking about suicide will encourage a plan. Chances are by you asking that person this question it can really unburden what they've been holding on all to themselves. So ask, “are you thinking of killing yourself?”.  

Do you ask if they have a plan. If they do have a detailed plan there's a good chance that they're very serious about it. So honor that ask them if they have a plan and get the appropriate help.  If you don't know what to do, ask “what can I do to help” maybe they know what they need at that moment. So just ask. 

Let them know you're here to help, even if you don't know what to say, take deep breaths together and just slow things down for a second. 

Do ask the person that they'd like a hug or to hold their hand. That could be incredibly calming and healing. 

Do call the national suicide prevention hotline +1 800-273-8255 and do go to the emergency room if you feel that your loved one is in immediate danger and needs immediate intervention. 

Know that there is always help and hope. 

 

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