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How To Help Someone Who Is Suicidal

Today Northeast Indiana is facing a perfect storm. The stress and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic—coping with illness, the uncertainties of returning to school, job changes and/or loss—have left many people feeling isolated and alone, unable to imagine a better day. In addition, our national conversation on civil rights is bringing generations of racial trauma to the surface, especially for people of color.

In June of this year, 25,498 Americans reported thinking of suicide or self-harm, with 14,607 reporting these thoughts nearly every day, according to voluntary screenings conducted by Mental Health America across the nation.

This is an epidemic within the pandemic that we have the power to combat. Understanding how to recognize the signs of suicide and how to talk about a seemingly unmentionable subject are the first steps.

Asking someone if they are considering suicide will not put the idea of killing themselves in their head. If someone is in a state of mental or emotional distress, they may already be thinking about suicide. Providing an opportunity for that person to talk about what they are feeling is the important first step. You can start by following this simple advice from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

Have an honest conversation

1. Talk to them in private

2. Listen to their story

3. Tell them you care about them

4. Ask directly if they are thinking about suicide

5. Encourage them to seek treatment or contact their doctor or therapist

6. Avoid debating the value of life, minimizing their problems or giving advice

If a person says they are considering suicide

• Take the person seriously

• Stay with them

• Help them remove lethal means

• Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

• Text TALK to 741741 to text with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free, 24/7

• Escort them to mental health services or an emergency room

People who are thinking about suicide don’t want to die, they just want to end the pain. Using the guidelines above, you can help stop the pain and save a life.