Suicide is preventable:
- People who think about and attempt suicide don’t want to die: they want a way out of their deep, psychological pain
- Anyone can have thoughts of suicide and anyone has the capacity to help someone at risk of suicide. You do not need to have a mental illness to be at risk of suicide.
- Suicide is preventable. Promoting recovery from suicidal crisis is our goal.
- We can be the light in a person’s life that shows them that there is hope in living, that help is available, that they’re not alone.
How to help:
- Active listening helps support a person in suicidal crisis: it can help them identify reasons of their own to keep living. This is a first step to recovering from a mind-set preoccupied with suicide.
- A person who is at the point of suicidal crisis has typically lost all hope and sees no other alternative to their deep, psychological pain than to end their life.
- The role of the helper is to aid the person at risk to gain sufficient perspective and insight that they themselves can identify reasons for living. While this may seem simplistic, its effects are powerful.
- A caring intervention can demonstrate to the person at risk that they are not alone and people do care if they live or die. This can provide a lasting anchor for the person at risk in future.
- People who think about suicide are desperate for human connection. One man who died by suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco wrote in his suicide note: “If one person smiles at me, I will not jump” (Friend, 2003, p.6).
- Listening to a person in crisis disclose their struggles empowers them because they are able to talk through their thoughts and in doing so will find their own hope, their own reason for living.
- A safety plan is a plan that is developed with a person at risk and a friend/family member/caregiver. It empowers the person at risk to recognize their own triggers,identify their own coping strategies and supports to stay safe from suicide (Brown & Stanley, 2012).
- Emergency room clinicians will often perform a risk assessment on a person in crisis. A more fulsome approach is to complement this assessment with a co-developed safety plan: a correct categorization of risk in and of itself does not promote recovery. at risk (D.MacLeod, R.Psych. personal communication, March 15, 2018).
- An assets-based approach, one that focuses on a person’s strengths and incorporates them into a safety plan to offset adverse experiences and prevent outcomes like suicidal behaviour, while incorporating their unique abilities into their recovery and healing processes (Xie, 2013).
Stats and attitudes:
- 90% of people who were in the process of acting on their plan to die by suicide but were stopped before attempting – either by a passerby, security staff, or police – did not go on to attempt suicide again (Seiden, 1978).
- Stigma remains the single-most significant barrier to suicide prevention.
- We must examine our own attitudes and biases towards suicide because if we do not believe that people at risk can be helped, we cannot help them.