The topic of suicide can be emotional for individuals and staff. Even those who are professionally trained can often shy away from the topic. As much stigma and shame surround suicide, we must continue to educate ourselves and decrease stigma, to help those who are struggling. Asking for help is not a weakness but rather a strength. Let’s all be aware of the signs, risk factors, where to get help and facts regarding suicide.
The use of telepsych, crisis text lines and hotlines has dramatically increased over the last 18 months. These services can be extremely useful for an individual or a caregiver who needs supports/guidance when they are struggling. Services like this have helped to debunk the myth that talking about suicide increases the likely hood that someone will take their life. If an individual is openly talking about suicide it is a cry for help. As much as you may not want to address the subject for your own reasons, the individual needs support and is looking to you to know where to get them help.
Not all suicides are completed using weapons, such as guns. When assessing for means and a plan it is important to also look at recent behaviors that may seem like accidents. Suicide among young children is often labeled as an accident, because they were hit by cars, fallout of trees or drown. Choice of means is usually linked to opportunity. These can be things like hanging, poisoning, jumping from heights, stabbing, death by police, and running into traffic. Less common causes can be ingesting nonfood items such as batteries and coins, biting on electrical cords or refusing to eat.
If you suspect someone is suicidal ASK! You will not put the thoughts in their mind. They may be relieved that someone is asking and paying attention to them. Individuals who are contemplating suicide think about it for a long time, it is not a quick decision.
So, what can you do? Educate yourself, stop shying away from the topic and know what local resources are available. Here are some helpful links to continue to educate yourself and your staff: