Suicide Prevention Steps and InformationACT:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis. If you need help, please dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You will be routed to the closest possible crisis center in your area. With more than 130 crisis centers across the country, our mission is to provide immediate assistance to anyone seeking mental health services. Call for yourself, or someone you care about. Your call is free and confidential.
- A – Acknowledge: listen to your friend and don’t ignore threats,
- C – Care: let your friend know you care,
- T – Tell: tell a trusted adult that you are worried about your friend.
Para obtener asistencia en español durante las 24 horas, llame al 1-888-628-9454.
Why should I call the Lifeline?
From immediate suicidal crisis help to information about mental health, crisis centers in our network are equipped to take a wide range of calls. Some of the reasons to call 1-800-273-TALK are listed below.
- Call to speak with someone who cares.
- Call if you feel you might be in danger of hurting yourself.
- Call to find referrals to mental health services in your area.
- Call to speak to a crisis worker about someone you're concerned about.
- Find out more.
(Taken from the Volunteers of America pamphlet - "Teens at Risk. Suicide: Warning signs and suggestions for parents and teachers")
Most suicidal youth don't really want to die, they just want their pain to end. There are several signs to watch for that may indicate someone is thinking about suicide. The more signs the greater the risk.
- A previous suicide attempt.
- Current talk of suicide, or making a plan.
- Giving away prized possessions.
- Self mutilation.
- Themes of death in writing and artwork.
- Substance abuse.
- Sudden, unusual happiness.
- Signs of severe depression such as moodiness, withdrawal, or hopelessness.
- Recent suicide attempt by a friend or family member.
Youth of all races, creeds, incomes and educational levels attempt or complete suicide. There is no typical suicide victim.
If you believe that someone is in immediate danger, trust your judgment! Stay with them and call any of the numbers listed above.
-------- Tips for providing support --------
- LISTEN - don't give advice, make judgments, or attempt to solve the problem - just listen.
- Comment on the changes that you have noticed ("Lately I've noticed that you have been spending a lot of time alone in your room, is something bothering you?" - this shows that you are concerned.
- Take their problems seriously.
- Send them the message that they are important to you, you care about them, and you want to help.
- "Oh come on, things aren't that bad."
- "You have it good compared to ..."
- "Aren't you exaggerating a bit?"
- "Suicide. That's a stupid way to solve your problem."
- "Hang in there things will blow over."
- "Are you thinking about hurting yourself?"
- "Are you thinking about killing yourself?" *
* If the answer is yes, keep asking questions:
- "How are you planning to do it?"
- "When are you going to do it?"
- "Do you have what you need to do it?" (i.e., access to drugs, guns, knives, rope, a car)
- The more dangerous and definite the plan, the greater the risk of a suicide attempt.
If the risk of suicide is very high:
- Do not leave the youth alone.
- Call your family doctor and make an appointment as soon as possible for an assessment.
- If your family doctor is unavailable, take the youth to the hospital Emergency Ward.
Know who to contact if you are concerned about your teen
- Call your family doctor (Pediatrician and/or Psychiatrist if involved).
- Call the local crisis line for support 1-800-273-TALK.
- Contact the school counselor and school administrator.
- Contact a community counselor and/or mental health agency.
Youth who are experiencing suicidal thoughts often act impulsively. During this time it is important to restrict access to any items your teen might use to harm themselves. Access to knives, firearms, ropes, razor blades, car keys, and excessive amounts of medications must be restricted. Kitchen knives, razor blades, car keys, and medications can all be locked away. Firearms and ropes must be kept in a safe place, inaccessible in case your teen feels the impulse to act.
A large number of people who take their own lives do so using a vehicle. Carbon monoxide poisoning and single vehicle accidents are lethal options, so limiting your teen's access to a vehicle while they are expressing thoughts of suicide is necessary.
Keep the discussion of suicide out in the open. Develop an interest in the positive aspects and thoughts that the youth has towards life.
Prepare a support network of caring people for your teen.
With the input of your teen you can carefully select support people your teen trusts, with whom they can share, and who can also watch out for suicide warning signs.
Increasing a teen's natural support network apart from time limited professional involvement is one of the most important and effective ways to reduce the risk of further attempts.
-------- Managing Suicidal Feelings --------
Initially you might feel some negative reactions to suicide that might include:
shock - doubt - denial - shame - guilt - fear - anger - blame
While these are all common reactions to a suicide attempt, it is important that you respond in a helpful, more productive manner.
Youth who are contemplating, or have attempted suicide are struggling with feelings of rejection. They often feel abandoned by everyone especially their parents. Let them know that you are available to listen and talk, that you are willing to spend time with them. Isolation only reinforces the feelings of rejection and abandonment, so stay close, stay involved.
The most important message to send to your teen are the messages,
- "I love you and I want to understand what is going on in your life."
- "I take you seriously."
- "I care about you."
- "I want to help."
Listen to your teen. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and problems while you just listen.
The single most common complaint made by teens about their parents is that they don't listen. Adults are often too willing to give advice, make judgments, and try to solve problems for them. What they really want are parents who will simply listen.
- Do not attempt to solve your teen's problems.
- Do not downplay their fears and concerns.
- Do not defend yourself, your spouse, relatives, friends, teachers, or their peers.
- Do not tell your teen how lucky they are or what they have to look forward to.
- Do not ask, "Why did you try to kill yourself?" - this implies that there is only one reason behind their decision when usually there are compounding reasons.
- Talking gets the problem out in the open.
- Talking eases stress and tension.
- Talking gets you both thinking about where you can go for help.
- Talking about suicide with your teen shows them that you can handle the discussion, and that they don't need to protect you anymore.
Use "I feel" statements when talking with your teen about your feelings or reactions to their behavior. This avoids blaming the teen, and then they are less likely to become defensive. Avoid such statements as; "You make me so angry!" instead say, "When you do this I feel angry."
This change in your approach with your teen might initially be met with some suspicion or distrust, but after you show some genuine interest in their life they will start to share with you.
Parental self care
People who live in a state of long term high stress are themselves at risk for clinical depression, as well as other stress aggravated physical illnesses (i.e. migraine headaches, gastrointestinal discomfort). They often lose their ability to effectively manage family, relationship, and work issues.
Involve others - don't try to handle the crisis alone
- It is important that you connect with a good friend, family member, church personnel, counselor, or any other support person to provide assistance during this difficult time.
- Keep a list of these support people handy so that you can access them for support when you need extra assistance, or when you feel overwhelmed.
- Ask for help with the practical things like driving to the hospital, making phone calls, or attending meetings.
- Find someone who is not directly involved to talk to for more long term support.
- Share your situation with your GP who can provide support and a possible referral.
- Recruit supportive relatives and friends - you might have to educate your support people.
- Pay close attention to your physical and mental health; nutrition, sleep, exercise, recreation, and relaxation.
- Spend time doing activities that you enjoy.
- Schedule a date night with your spouse or partner.
- Find a supportive group of people who have experienced situations similar to yours.
- Attend to your spiritual self through religion, meditation, nature, etc.