The tragic passing of an iconic fashion designer further brings to light the need for suicide awareness. Mental illness, the inability to cope with personal challenges, and an ultimate feeling of hopelessness are just some of the factors that lead a person to take their life. Survivors are rendered frustrated, angry, and at loss when trying to understand their loved one’s decision. The most important thing to remember is it is NOT YOUR FAULT. Prevention is only effective with a high level of awareness. Coaxing someone burdened with thoughts of hurting themselves is not an easy task. Below are some tactics that can be used to open the lines of communication and get help for someone in need.
The suicide prevention life line is just one of many organizations that are working to educate and provide assistance. As a part of the #BeThe1To help movement, they have outlined measures that can be taken to start what could be the most important conversation of a person’s life. The five steps you can take include:
1. Ask & listen – Come right out and ask if a person is considering suicide. You can also ask for specifics about the pain being experienced, and what help the individual may need. Listen carefully to the answers. Most will not blatantly offer information, so it is important to read between the lines. Although you may not understand what a person is experiencing, you more likely know the individual enough to know when they are diminishing a situation. Having a real and honest conversation can decrease fears of judgement, and make the transition into the next step easier.
2. Keep the individual safe – Taking the information you have gathered, you must decide how urgent the situation. Discussing suicidal thoughts with the individual, including how, where, and when they have considered hurting themselves, can tell you the degree of their plans. An important detail to learn is if there has ever been an attempt. This information can help you determine what method of help to get next. Experts suggest the key is to put as much distance between the individual and their chosen method, in the hopes of getting more time to get them help.
3. Remain present – This can vary from seeing, talking, or texting every day and it works to show support, and reaffirm to the individual they are not alone. During conversations continue to listen for clues about their state of mind, and to learn how current prevention methods are working for the person. Individuals considering suicide may experience a disconnection from the world, your time and attention refutes that notion.
4. Expand on their connection – Try to get the individual involved in events going on in the community, with family, and with friends. Suggest attending group meetings, seeking one-on-one sessions with a professional, or calling help lines like Lifeline (800-273-8255). These outlets can establish a plan to alleviate stressors triggering suicidal thoughts, allowing an individual to consider alternatives.
5. Follow up – The final step is remain aware, present, and understanding. Ask questions about the individual’s new or improved coping strategies. Stay involved and aware of their feelings. Continual reminders that someone is thinking of them, and is available to provide support promotes victory over this personal battle.
Learn to recognize the signs and you can make a difference in the lives of others. For further information on ways to help visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or any other countless suicide prevention organizations.
RIP Katherine Noel Brosnahan aka Kate Valentine aka Kate Spade