Suicidal ideation, or suicidal thoughts, is a common byproduct of psychological disorders and a common precursor to suicide. As such, knowing how to help and support someone with suicidal ideation can be the difference between life and death. Below are some tips for supporting someone with suicidal ideation.
1. Take Their Thoughts Seriously
If someone confides in you about their suicidal thoughts, it’s key to take them seriously. Don’t dismiss their feelings or tell them to “snap out of it.” Instead, listen to them and let them know that you’re there to help. Avoid judgment or criticism and provide a safe space for them to express themselves.
2. Encourage Professional Help
While it’s vital to be there for someone experiencing suicidal ideation, it’s also important to encourage them to seek professional help.
Suggest that they see a mental health professional, such as a therapist or psychiatrist, who can provide them with the support and resources they need to overcome these negative thought patterns. If possible, offer to help them find a qualified professional and accompany them to their first appointment for support.
3. Keep in Touch
Staying connected with someone who is experiencing suicidal ideation is important. Check in with them regularly, either in person or via phone or text. Let them know that you’re there for them and that they can reach out to you whenever they need to. This can help them feel less alone and more supported.
4. Be Available
Make sure the person knows that you are available to talk whenever they need to. If they call or text you, try to respond as soon as possible. Let them know you care, and they can always count on you.
5. Don’t Leave Them Alone
If you’re worried about someone’s safety, don’t leave them alone. Stick around until you’re sure they are safe or until they get the help they need. If you can’t stay with them yourself, make sure someone else is with them.
6. Help Them Create a Safety Plan
Creating a safety plan can help someone who is experiencing suicidal ideation feel more in control and less overwhelmed. Work with them to create a plan that includes strategies for coping with suicidal thoughts, as well as emergency contacts and resources. Having a plan in place can help them feel more prepared and less overwhelmed.
7. Remove any means of self-harm
If the person has access to firearms, medications, alcohol, or other lethal means, it’s essential to remove them from their environment or lock them away in a safe place. Removing these potential means of suicide can help reduce the risk of them attempting it.
8. Know when to seek emergency help
If you believe that someone is in immediate danger of harming themselves, it’s important to seek emergency help right away. Call 911 or the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline or take them to the emergency room, even if it means doing so against their will.
Supporting someone with suicidal ideation can be challenging, but it’s a selfless act that helps the person get through a rough patch. By following the tips above, you can provide crucial support and help someone get the professional help they need. Ultimately, your compassion, love, and understanding could be the difference between life and death.