You may think that it is impossible to know when someone will commit suicide. It may be hard if that person appears happy and you cannot see any signs of depression. If you have a feeling that someone is suicidal, never leave that person along and do everything in your power to make sure that they do not take their own life.
The signs of someone having suicidal thoughts can be easy if you are really looking. That person may be talking about killing or harming themselves. They can write in their notebook about death or talk about dying. Maybe you see them trying to find weapons like guns, drugs, or razor blades. That person can talk about feeling helpless, hopeless, trapped, and that things are never going to get better or change. That person could also be making preparations like writing up a will, giving away their favorite possessions, and making funeral arrangements. Maybe they have said goodbye to you like they will never see you again or prefer to be alone all the time. They can also involve themselves in risky situations like doing drugs or rebellious behavior because they do not care what happens to them. If you notice any of these signs, do not ignore them as you may regret it if that person succeeds in taking their life.
The first thing you should do is talk to that person. Just because you bring up suicide does not mean that person will kill themselves. You should ask that person if they have had thoughts of suicide. You can let that person know that you are feeling concerned about them, that you have noticed differences in their behavior, and feel they are not acting like themselves. Make sure not to argue with that person in making them feel guilty for feeling the way they do. Your friend cannot help the way they feel and guilt will not make that person feel better. You should also never promise that you will not tell anyone they are suicidal as suicide should never be kept a secret. Always tell someone whether it is a professional or a family member about the actions your friend plans to commit. Do not blame yourself for your friend’s unhappiness as depression as a person’s happiness is not your responsibility.
If they tell you they are suicidal, ask them how long they have been feeling like this, if something specific happened to them, the best way you can support them, and if they have tried to get help before. Let that person know that they are not alone in what they are feeling and that there is always an opportunity for happiness. Just one conversation make a big difference and might remind them how much they want to live. It is best to be yourself, listen to what they have to say, be sympathetic, and take what they say seriously. Never assume that person is being dramatic as that is belittling their feelings and making them feel more alone. Always give that person hope that things will get better.
Check to see if that person has a plan for their suicide, if they have the tools to commit suicide, when they plan to do it, and if they intend to go through it. Once you know all of this information, call a crisis center and the police. Remove any lethal weapons from their reach and never leave them alone. Encourage that person to see a professional, go to a treatment facility, and make an appointment for that person. You can even go to the appointment with your friend to make sure that person goes and to ask how it went. A therapist might have tips for you as a friend to help your friend through this tough time.
Make sure that person takes their medication and keep a close watch on any noticeable side effects that you should tell their therapist in case they may need to switch their medication. Continue to give your friend a visit, call them, and invite them out. Encourage that person to eat right, sleep well, take a walk outside for 30 minutes, and exercise as exercise can release endorphins and help you destress. You should especially check on that person when certain triggers appear like if it is the anniversary of someone they have lost, if they are surrounded by alcohol and drug use, and if they feel the most stressed. Give that person all of the tools they need like contact numbers for a doctor or therapist, family, and friends to reach out to in case those thoughts come back. Remove lethal objects from their house like pills, knives, firearms. Keep their medications locked up or give it to them yourself when they need it.
Suicide should never have to feel like an option when things in life do not work out. Problems do not always stay problems and it can take certain people in your life to find solutions. Do not pass off your friend’s problems because you are too afraid to handle it. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. If your friend has a problem that you cannot find a solution to, find others who can help like a professional.
For more information, call The National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 which offers 24/7 free and confidential support for those in distress.
Located in Tacoma, Washington, Bayview Center’s mission is to offer clinically-driven programs and services to treat a number of substance abuse disorders along with anxiety and depression using cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, trauma therapy, yoga therapy, and more for a successful recovery. For more information, please call us at 888 570 7154 as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.