What Can I Do?
Often a suicidal person doesnít ask directly for help, but that doesnít mean that they donít want help.
Most people who commit suicide donít want to die and often feel confused and conflicted about taking their own life ñ they just want to stop feeling the intense emotional pain and find it hard, at that moment in their lives, to see any alternative. The intensity of the emotional pain can distort thinking, and makes it harder for the person to see other solutions to problems or even connect with people in their lives who love or support them. It is at this point when a person feels as though nothing they have tried has changed the situation that death is seen as the only way for the pain to stop.
If you have a friend or family member who you know or suspect is thinking about suicide, you might feel nervous or unsure about talking with them about it. You may think that by talking or asking the questions you might encourage the person to do it, or you may think they are joking and not taking them seriously.
“Take any suicidal talk or behaviour seriously, It is often a cry for help.”
Suicide Warning Signs
Talking about suicide – They may say things such as I just donít want to be here anymore,
I’d be better off dead, Everyone would be happier if I wasnít aroundí, ëI just canít see a way out.
Thinking and talking about death all the time – Talking about death, dying,
or violence. Writing poems or stories about death. Reading about ways to die.
Not expressing any hope for the future or any interest in the future –
Expressing feelings such as hopelessness, feeling helpless. Not believing that anything is going
Finding the means – Looking for the means to commit suicide. Pills (stockpiling and building up stores of prescribed or over the counter medication), accessing guns or other objects. Visiting suicide spots.
Self loathing, self hatred – Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame and blame. Withdrawing from others – becoming more and more isolated. Wanting to be left alone. Not answering their phone or door when people call.
Putting their affairs in order – Making wills. Making arrangements for family members. Giving away personal possessions especially items which are sentimental.
Saying their goodbye’s – Unexpected calls or visits to friends, family members. Saying goodbye to people in a way that implies they wonít ever see them again.
Increase in self destructive behaviour – Increasing their alcohol or drug use, risky sexual
behaviours, driving recklessly, taking higher doses of medication.
Changes in behaviour – Changes in self care, not looking after themselves. Not eating or sleeping. Changes in mood, depression, anxiety, sudden mood swings.
Sudden calmness – If a person suddenly becomes unexplainably calm and happy after being very depressed, this can indicate that a person has made a decision to commit suicide.
Who is at Risk?
- Women who experience domestic violence are 12 times more likely to end their lives by suicide
than those who have not.
- Domestic violence commonly results in self-harm and attempted suicide.
- One-third of women attending emergency departments for self-harm are domestic
- The figures for black and ethnic minority women are even higher: for example, 50% of women of
Asian origin who have attempted suicide or self-harm are domestic violence survivors
- More victims of domestic violence die by their own hand than by that of their abuser.
- Home Office statistics estimate that 10 women kill themselves every week after repeated abuse.
There are a number of other factors that you should think about such as:
– Mental illness
– Alcoholism or drug abuse
– History of suicide in the family
– Recent Loss
– Social isolation or loneliness
– History of Trauma
– Terminal Illness or living with chronic pain
– Stressful Life Events
– Previous suicide attempts
Can I really Help Someone Who Wants To Commit Suicide?
The answer is yes there are things that you can do that will help.
1) Speak Up
If you are worried about someone you care about and you feel that some of the warning signs are there it may mean that the person needs immediate help. You canít make a person suicidal by
showing that you care so ask the person directly if they are feeling suicidal.
It is important to:
- Listen even if the words are hard to hear; the fact that the person is talking is a positive sign.
- Be understanding and non-judgemental, try to be patient, stay calm, let them speak.
- Reassure them that talking about how they feel is ok.
2) Respond Quickly
When we are worried about a friend or family member committing suicide it is important to act. There are 4 things to ask when a person tells you that they want to commit suicide.
- Do they intend to commit suicide? INTENT ï Do they have the MEANS to carry it out?
- Does the person have a PLAN? ï Do they know when they would do it? TIME
3) How Do I Know Whether The Situation Is Serious? Risk Level.
The person has some suicidal thoughts. They talk about their thoughts but have no
plan and say that they wonít commit suicide.
Is experiencing suicidal thoughts, has thought about a plan but it is vague and the
MEANS is not lethal. Says that they wonít commit suicide.
Has strong suicidal thoughts (INTENT). Talks about their PLAN and MEANS, which is
lethal and definite and TIME but says they wonít commit suicide.
Has strong suicidal thoughts (INTENT). A specific PLAN that is lethal and definite and
TIME and says that they will commit suicide.
If A Suicide Attempt Seems Imminent Or Is In Progress Act Quickly. Don’t Leave A Suicidal Person Alone.
Stay with them while you:
- Contact emergency services by dialling 999, or contact 101 to connect to Cleveland Police
- Take them to A & E
- Speak to a crisis line, mental health service or GP
4) Offer Help and Support
It takes courage to help someone who is suicidal and can be difficult seeing a friend or loved one feeling such distress. Talk about your feelings with friends, family members, a counsellor, or health professional.
Helping a Suicidal Person
- Access Professional Help ñ Encourage the person to get the help they need.
- Be Consistent ñ People who are contemplating suicide often think they canít be helped, being consistent in your support is important. Commit to keeping in touch don’t rely on the person to contact you if they need anything, or even return your calls. Drop by, keep calling.
- Reduce Access to the Means ñ Whilst there is a risk consider removing such things that may give the person immediate access to harm themselves e.g knives, razors, excessive amounts of over the counter medication, key to vehicles etc. Where a person has access to prescribed medication you may consider giving them their prescribed dose when required – remember these responses are to manage the situation when there is immediate risk until you are able to access professional support for the person..
- Encourage Positive Lifestyle Changes ñ Examples might be healthy diet, good sleep, exercising or learning new skills. They may consider getting help with drug and alcohol issues. Encourage them to do things they enjoy.
- Remain Non-Judgemental ñ Following disclosure a person may feel shame or embarrassment which can become another source of negative thinking about being a burden to others.
- Make a Safety Plan ñ Talk to your friend or family member about some steps they will promise to follow if they feel suicidal again (consider using the safety plan provided in this leaflet).
REMEMBER – ASK THE QUESTION AND SUPPORT THE PERSON
t: 08457 90 90 90 (National Line)
t: 01642 217 777 (Middlesbrough)
The PAPYRUS HOPELine UK
PAPYRUS (Prevention of Young Suicide) is an organisation that aims to prevent suicide in young people and to promote mental health. It can offer advice if you are worried about a young person who might be suicidal.
t: 0800 068 4141
Saneline is a national helpline offering emotional support and information for people affected by mental health problems.
t: 0845 767 8000 (6pm-11pm daily)
Stamp Out Suicide
t: 01642 241 864
Thinking About Recovery…
MSP Counselling and Therapeutic Services
For more information and to arrange an
assessment session please contact the
Counselling Service directly.
t: 01642 256 036
To book a place on the Choices programme
call us on 01642 256 036