September is National Suicide Prevention Month. It’s a month dedicated to raising awareness by spreading the word about actions we can all take to prevent suicide. With suicide rates on the rise, it’s more important than ever to help increase awareness and provide support to those who need it most.
End The Stigma
To start, we need to change the conversation and spread awareness about actions that can promote healing, health, and hope.The dangerous stigma surrounding mental health can leave those who suffer feeling rejected, misunderstood, and alone. You can help someone in crisis by following the The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s evidence-based steps for communicating with someone who may be suicidal.
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Asking the question “Are you thinking about suicide?” communicates that you’re open to speaking about suicide in a non-judgmental and supportive way. Asking in this direct, unbiased manner, can open the door for effective dialogue about their emotional pain and can allow everyone be the one to ask to see what next steps need to be taken. Other questions you can ask include, “How do you hurt?” and “How can I help?” Do not ever promise to keep their thoughts of suicide a secret.
2. KEEP THEM SAFE
First of all, it’s good for everyone to be on the same page. After the “Ask” step, and you’ve determined suicide is indeed being talked about, it’s important to find out a few things to establish immediate safety. Have they already done anything to try to kill themselves before talking with you? Does the person experiencing thoughts of suicide know how they would kill themselves? Do they have a specific, detailed plan? What’s the timing for their plan? What sort of access to do they have to their planned method?
3. BE THERE
This could mean being physically present for someone, speaking with them on the phone when you can, or any other way that shows support for the person at risk. An important aspect of this step is to make sure you follow through with the ways in which you say you’ll be able to support the person – do not commit to anything you are not willing or able to accomplish. If you are unable to be physically present with someone with thoughts of suicide, talk with them to develop some ideas for others who might be able to help as well (again, only others who are willing, able, and appropriate to be there). Listening is again very important during this step – find out what and who they believe will be the most effective sources of help.
4. HELP THEM CONNECT
Helping someone with thoughts of suicide connect with ongoing supports (like the Lifeline, 800-273-8255) can help them establish a safety net for those moments they find themselves in a crisis. Additional components of a safety net might be connecting them with supports and resources in their communities. Explore some of these possible supports with them – are they currently seeing a mental health professional? Have they in the past? Is this an option for them currently? Are there other mental health resources in the community that can effectively help?
5. FOLLOW UP
After your initial contact with a person experiencing thoughts of suicide, and after you’ve connected them with the immediate support systems they need, make sure to follow-up with them to see how they’re doing. Leave a message, send a text, or give them a call. The follow-up step is a great time to check in with them to see if there is more you are capable of helping with or if there are things you’ve said you would do and haven’t yet had the chance to get done for the person.
Join Bay TMS and thousands across nation to promote suicide prevention through these life-saving action steps. For more information and suicide prevention resources,
Participate in our donation campaign "Helping Someone in Crisis." Watch the video and we will make a donation for each individual who acknowledges watching the video.