What Should I Do?
ASK THE TOUGH QUESTION
“Are you thinking about suicide?”
– This will not cause someone to take their life or even consider suicide. If someone is depressed, the idea of suicide has possibly already come up. Asking this question implies to the person at risk that you are willing and able to help and encourages open and direct communication. The person at risk needs to hear these words and we need to know if suicide is their intention in order to help.
– Their story will include all of their reasons for choosing death. Listen with an open heart and open mind. Do not try to solve their problems or give advice. Encourage them to talk by asking about their reasons for wanting to die. Eventually, some reasons for wanting to live might surface. If not, statements about hope, uncertainty and worry about when they’re gone can be used to support a choice to stay safe. You can also ask for any reasons they might have for wanting to live.
Ask questions about their plan.
- Do you have a plan to kill yourself?
- Have you thought of when you are going to take your life?
- How do you plan on taking your life?
- Do you have access to the things you need for your plan? (i.e. gun, ammo, pills, etc.)
- Do you have a backup plan?
Create a plan with the person at risk to help keep them safe.
– This plan will include a safety contact and a way to disable their suicide plan. Ask if there is a family member or close friend who they feel comfortable talking to and sharing their story with. (If the person at risk is under 18, their parent, guardian or trusted family member should be called.) Also ask if that person could help to disable their suicide plan. Someone will need to remove the means (take away the guns, pills, etc.). Give the person at risk a list of resources to contact in the event that they cannot reach their safety contact. Do not leave the person at risk alone. If the person at risk is uncooperative or you suspect that their risk for suicide is imminent, offer to drive the person at risk to the hospital or call 911.
Connect the person at risk to their chosen safety contact.
– Help the person at risk to reach out to their safety contact and share their story. Explain to the person at risk what is being asked of them (provide support to the person at risk when needed, remove the means, take the person to a counselor/hospital if necessary, etc.) Follow through might also include the helper, you, calling 911 or driving the person to the ER.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Never leave a person at risk for suicide alone, especially if there is still a viable suicide plan in place.
- Never put yourself in danger. Call 911.
- Be patient but persistent.
- Don’t try to fix the problems of the person at risk. Your immediate goal is getting the person at risk to safety. The problems that brought them to this situation can be worked on later.
- Don’t try to give advice. The best way to help the person at risk is to listen to them and ask questions.
- Show them that you care.
Risk Factors and Warning Signs
- Writing about death
- Losing interest in activities
- Giving away possessions
- Acting irrational
- Acting impulsively
- Behaving recklessly
- Drug/alcohol use
- School performance decreases
- I can’t do this anymore.
- This is too hard.
- I’m a burden.
- Everything will end soon.
- I know how to fix everything.
- No one can help me.
- Change or neglect personal appearance
- Changes in appetite and sleep
- Weight changes
- Change in personality
- Inability to concentrate
Risk Factors and Warning Signs
If someone is talking to me about suicide, does that mean that they aren’t serious about killing themselves?
One of the most ominous warning signs of adolescent suicide is talking repeatedly about one’s own death. People who make threats of suicide should be taken seriously and provided the help that they need. Talking about suicide should be taken as a warning sign and understood to mean that suicide presents an imminent risk for that person. It also tells the helper that the person at risk has reasons for wanting to live and is looking for help.
Will talking or asking about suicide cause someone to start thinking about it?
Asking about suicide provides individuals with an avenue to talk about their feelings, thereby enabling them to be more comfortable with expressing suicidal thoughts which increases their chances of seeking help.
Do people who attempt suicide fully intend to die?
Most individuals do not want suicide to happen. Rather, they are torn between wanting to end their psychological pain through death and wanting to continue living, though only in a more hopeful environment. Such ambivalence is communicated to others through verbal statements and behavior changes in 80% of suicidal youths.
Can I help someone who is having thoughts of suicide if I’ve never been trained in suicide intervention?
Individuals at risk for suicide are most likely to approach a family member or friend for help. Those closest to the individual at risk are also most likely to notice warning signs. Showing care and concern, listening and encouraging the person at risk to seek help from a trained professional can help to save someone’s life.
What should I do if the person I’m helping refuses to get professional help?
People refuse professional help for different reasons, like being afraid of what will happen to them or worries about treatment costs. Do not take this as a sign that they don’t want or don’t need help. Continue to talk to them about your concerns for their safety and suggest that a trained professional would be better able to help them. Listen to them and offer to help connect them with a mental health professional or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK). If you have concerns for their safety, call 911.
A person at risk asked me not to tell anyone they’re having thoughts of suicide. Should I keep their secret?
Thoughts of suicide should never be kept secret. The person at risk might get angry at you for telling and you could lose a friend, but their life is more important than keeping a secret. Ask someone you trust for help.
I’m concerned about someone but I don’t feel comfortable talking to them about suicide. What should I do?
Talking to someone about suicide can be very difficult, especially if it’s someone we care about. Furthermore, if we ask about suicide, we have to be prepared for the person to say that they are having thoughts. Remember that sometimes the best way to help is just to listen and encourage the person at risk to seek professional help. If you truly can’t talk to the person at risk about your concerns, reach out to a family member or friend who you trust and disclose your concerns and ask if they are willing to help you talk to the person at risk.
- If you are established with a doctor or counselor, call their office and request an immediate appointment.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Free, 24-hour hotline.
Lifeline Crisis Chat
- This website is run by the same individuals as the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, but allows you to chat with a helping professional. Crisischat.org is available from 1:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. Currently, they are unable to respond to all chats, and in the event that a helper is unavailable, you will be asked to try again in 30 minutes. Please use The Suicide Prevention Lifeline as a backup if a helper is unavailable.
Crisis Text Line
- Free crisis support services at no cost, 24 hours a day. To use, text “START” to 741741.
- You can walk in to any hospital ER for assistance.
- If you can’t reach anyone or get yourself to the ER, call 911 and someone will come to you.
Clinic for Personal and Developmental Counseling: (337) 482-1018
- Offers free counseling to anyone in the community. Counseling services include individual, family, couples, groups and play therapy.
Family Tree: (337) 981-2180
- Provides counseling services for a fee. Cost is on a sliding scale and is based upon income and dependents
Resource Management Services: (337) 261-8781
- Provides free in-home counseling to individuals receiving Medicaid.
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness): (337) 654-2138
- Offers classes and psychoeducational groups for individuals suffering from mental illness and their caregivers.
Tyler Mental Health: (337) 262-4100
- Offers free counseling and mental health services to eligible individuals.
- Crouch Foundation can help to connect you with a fee-based counselor based upon your insurance or private funding capabilities.
UL Students: (337) 482-6480
- The Counseling and Testing Center at UL offers free counseling to all students and campus faculty and staff. Emergencies are seen immediately. For after-hours emergencies, you can reach the counselor on call by calling University Police (337) 482-6447.
- Stay connected when you are having thoughts of suicide with the My3 app.Download the App
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- The Jason Foundation
- The Jed Foundation
- The Hopeline
Veterans peer support line
Spanish speaking suicide hotline
Teen to teen peer counseling hotline
Grad student hotline
Post partum depression hotline
Contact Safety Teams at Social Media Sites
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/?id=305410456169423 to anonymously report someone as suicidal on Facebook. A member of Facebook’s Safety Team will send the user an e-mail with the Lifeline number and possibly a link to chat with Lifeline counselor.
- Twitter: https://support.twitter.com/forms/general and select “Self-Harm” to send an e-mail to Twitter reporting a suicidal user. Twitter will send the user a direct message with the Lifeline number.
- MySpace: Click on the “Report Abuse” link that appears at the bottom of every MySpace page and complete the form. MySpace will then send an e-mail to the MySpace user with the Lifeline number.
- YouTube: To report suicidal content, click on the flag icon under a video and select “Harmful Dangerous Acts” and then “Suicide or Self-Injury.” You Tube will then review the video and may send a message to the user that uploaded the video with the Lifeline number.
- Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/help to write an e-mail to Tumblr about a suicidal user. Include as much information as possible including the URL of the Tumblr blog. A member of Tumblr’s Safety Team will send the user an e-mail with the Lifeline number.
Engage Your School
Jacob Crouch Suicide Prevention Services offers presentations that educate students on suicide awareness, warning signs and prevention. These programs can be tailored to the needs of your school and typically last between 45 and 60 minutes. We know that students are most likely to be aware of problems like depression or thoughts of suicide amongst their peers, which is why we advocate for student awareness of suicide. Students can get involved by requesting that their school contact us to arrange for a student presentation. There is no cost for student presentations.
The Jason Flatt Act of Louisiana HB 719, also known as Act 219, effective June 16, 2008, requires:
- In-service training in suicide prevention for all public school teachers, school counselors and principals, and as determined by the board, other school administrators for whom training is deemed beneficial.
- Two hours of in-service training in suicide prevention is required annually.
Jacob Crouch Suicide Prevention Services offers teacher trainings that meet the requirements of Act 219. For more information about teacher trainings, please call us at (337) 234-1828.