Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and we wanted to take this opportunity to talk about suicide, and help raise awareness about suicide prevention. Below is some information about how to ask someone if they are feeling suicidal and 6 common myths relating to suicide.
How to ask someone if they are feeling suicidal
If someone feels suicidal, talking to someone who can listen and be supportive may be their first step towards getting help. They could talk to someone in their life. They could also talk to a professional such as a doctor or therapist, or a trained listener at a helpline.
If you feel able to listen, you could ask them about how they are feeling. It could help if you:
- Ask open questions
These are questions that invite someone to say more than ‘yes’ or ‘no’, such as ‘How have you been feeling?’ or ‘What happened next?’
- Give them time
You might feel anxious to hear their answers, but it helps if you let them take the time they need.
- Take them seriously
People who talk about suicide do sometimes act on their feelings — it’s a common myth that they don’t. It’s best to assume that they are telling the truth about feeling suicidal.
- Try not to judge
You might feel shocked, upset or frightened, but it’s important not to blame the person for how they are feeling. They may have taken a big step by telling you.
- Don’t skirt around the topic
There is still a taboo around talking about suicide which can make it even harder for people experiencing these feelings to open up and feel understood. Direct questions about suicide like ‘Are you having suicidal thoughts?’ or ‘Are you thinking about suicide?’ can help someone talk about how they are feeling.
Now we will bust 6 common myths that often surround suicide.
6 common myths:
If a person is seriously considering suicide there is nothing you can do?
Most suicidal crisis are time limited. People who are contemplating suicide are often in unbearable pain, physically, emotionally or both. Solutions can be found with the help of concerned individuals who support them through the crisis period.
If you ask a person about their suicidal thoughts, you will encourage the person to kill themselves?
Asking someone directly about their suicidal feelings will often lower their anxiety level and act as a deterrent. The crisis and resulting emotional distress will already have triggered the thought in a vulnerable person. Your openness and concern in asking about suicide will allow the person experiencing pain to talk about the problems which may reduce his or her anxiety. This may also allow the person with suicidal thoughts to feel less lonely or isolated, feel listened to and very possibly relieved that they are able to speak about it
People who talk about suicide don’t complete suicide?
Eight out of 10 people who take their own lives give definite warning signs of their suicidal intentions. People who make suicidal attempts and threats must be taken seriously.
A person thinking about suicide will always be suicidal?
Most people who are at risk feel suicidal for only a brief period in the lives.
With assistance and support they can get through this difficult period.
Suicidal people rarely seek medical attention?
About 75% of suicidal people visit a medical professional within three months of a suicide attempt.
Suicide happens without warning?
Suicidal persons may give warning clues regarding their suicidal intentions. Alertness to these help seeking behaviours may prevent suicidal behaviour.
Want to get involved and help us to shape services available to local people? We have recently launched a community research survey on suicide prevention and want to hear from you. Complete the survey here. Your opinion really does matter to us
If you are struggling with your mental health or feeling suicidal, you can call the Adult Mental Health Support Line on 0800 138 0990. For information and advice call our 24 hour Information Line on 01482 240133, email [email protected] or text 07520 633447.
You can also use our live chat function at www.heymind.org.uk.
Get involved in the conversation, and help us to raise awareness using #WSPD @MindHEY