Suicide / Self-Harm Prevention
A lot of people who think about or attend suicide consider it as the only solution to the feelings that seems impossible to deal with and the intensity of these emotions prevent them from seeing the alternative solutions.
Thoughts of suicide are usually temporary. It is possible to relieve the pain that seems to be impossible to deal with or it is possible to increase the ways of coping with it. It is important to remember that "Nobody has to live through this period alone". The first and most important step is to seek help.
Mostly, marked changes happen in the behavior of the person who is planning to suicide. If someone you know,
- Talks implicitly or explicitly about killing him/herself (such as “It's not worth living”, “World is better without me”, “I can't stand”, “It's over, I will kill myself”)
- Exposed to or witnessed a traumatic incident,
- Has a disturbed eating and sleep pattern,
- Is isolating him/herself from friends and social environments; is less interested in hobbies, school, work; does not care about his/her physical appearance,
- Engaging in behaviors such as writing a will, saying good-bye, giving away goods of (personal) value.
- Has previous suicide attempt,
- Taking unnecessary risks,
- Seems to be tired, worn-out, distressed; is unable to concentrate,
- Or suddenly seems to be relieved and peaceful while s/he was feeling depressed,
S/he is under risk and may be thinking about committing suicide.
How can you help if someone you know is thinking about suicide?
- The most important thing to do is to talk to her/him.
- Listen to her/him in an open, interested, calm and non-judgmental way. Let her/him talk about whatever s/he wants as long as s/he wishes. Try to understand what s/he is feeling.
- You don't have to say magical words. Most of the time, showing that you care and that s/he is not alone with the pain is the most important thing.
- Avoid arguing and giving advice. Do not question the accuracy of her/his feelings and/or suicide. Do not give a lecture about the value of life.
- Mention that you are glad that s/he talked to you. Say supportive and encouraging things. Give hope.
- Ask about his intention and plan to commit suicide, learn about the time, the method and accessibility to the materials s/he is planning to use. Don't hesitate to talk about these openly. Don't be shocked, remain as calm as possible.
- If the time and method are determined, this constitutes an urgent risk. Take it seriously. Do not leave the person alone even for a second and seek help.
- If there is anything around that s/he can use, remove it. A suicidal person should be seen by a professional or a medical doctor. You can take her/him to the hospital or call a doctor. Do not panic and do not hesitate to call for emergency help.
- If there is no urgent risk, offer your help and support her/him to get professional help. You may be present when s/he takes the appointment or goes to the first session.
- Never keep a suicide plan secret. Your friend may ask you not to tell anybody about the plan. However, never take this responsibility alone. If there is a serious situation take the risk of regretting something you have done, rather than something you haven't.
- Do not embarrass or judge her/him in order to change her/his idea. This only increases feelings of guilt and hopelessness. Avoid saying something that may make her/him feel worse. Do not minimize what s/he is going through by saying that this does not necessitate committing suicide. The size of the problem does not matter; the important thing is the extent to which it affects the person.
- Never say that s/he cannot kill him/herself.
- Emphasize that this is temporary and s/he can get help. In fact, most people think about suicide from time to time but these thoughts are temporary.
- Follow how s/he is doing. It is important to keep supporting her/him even if there is no urgent risk.
- If a friend of yours or someone close to you is thinking about committing suicide, it is a very difficult experience for you, too. You may consider getting help to deal with this.