Just Listen…

By Beverly Kube, Behavioral Health Consultant

Talking about suicide does not make someone decide to take their life. People who are feeling depressed and hopeless want to talk. Your willingness to talk about emotional issues, including suicide, can be the first step to getting a person help. The best thing you can do is begin the conversation.

People are reluctant to tell others they are thinking about suicide because they are ashamed and believe there is no way out of their pain. When we demonstrate that we are listening and understand the depth of their despair, people are willing to share and we can potentially save a life.

Ask questions and listen in a non-judgmental and non- confrontational way. No shame and no guilt. Just listen.

To help determine if your loved one or friend is in immediate danger you need to ask:
Do you feel safe?
Do you have a suicide plan?
Do you ever think about harming yourself?
Do you have what you need to carry out your plan?
Do you have thoughts about when you would do it?

Do not minimize their problem or try to convince them to change their mind. This will only make them feel guilty or to deny feelings they have shared. Instead tell them that they can feel better and there is help.

If it is clear that there are thoughts and plans of self-harm or if they unsure that they can control their behavior you can take them to any hospital ER. There, they will meet with a social worker as well as a doctor who will further determine the next step. If they are unwilling to go for help and you feel there is immediate danger, it is time to call 911.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Ask questions if you suspect someone is considering suicide and stay involved by following through with making sure your friend is getting the help they need. You can save a life!