How to Support Someone Who’s Suicidal

September 10, 2020

It’s not easy knowing when someone close to you is struggling. You probably want to be as supportive as you can for your friends and family members. However, sometimes it can be hard to know how to best support someone who’s suicidal, out of fear of saying the wrong thing or doing more harm with your actions.

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week; part of September being Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Although suicide is a difficult subject to talk about, especially because of the stigma surrounding it, it is important to have more conversations about mental health, so that we can educate and support each other.

If someone close to you is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, there are many ways that you can support them. The Depression Project outlines several actions that you can take to support someone who is suicidal:

Ensure Their Safety

If they have showed any risk of acting on their thoughts, remove any dangers to ensure a safe environment. Call a crisis line or emergency service if they seem to have a high intent for acting on their suicidal thoughts.

Demonstrate Understanding

Create a space for conversation that fosters understanding about what the person is going through. Demonstrating understanding, rather than judgement, helps cultivate a safe, supportive connection to make the person feel less alone.

Be Patient & Listen Empathetically

Someone who is suicidal may struggle conveying what is going on in their head. Have the patience to hear them out. The person who is struggling needs to feel heard and less alone. By listening openly to support someone who’s suicidal, you can better understand them and be an outlet for them to work through their feelings.

Give Them Encouraging Reminders

You can continue to remind them that they are loved and that they are not a burden. This shows the person that people close to them would not be better off without them in their lives. You can also remind them of their strengths and accomplishments. Telling someone how proud you are of them can help.

Resist the Urge to Only Focus on Problem Solving

In these situations, we often move quickly into “problem solving mode,” when what people really need is comfort or conversation. It’s important to listen and try to fully understand where someone is coming from before offering solutions.

Show Support Beyond Conversations

People have times where they don’t feel like talking about what they are going through. In those cases, you can still show support beyond having a conversation. Simply being present, giving them a hug and showing them that they aren’t alone can also help a lot.

Help With Daily Tasks

For someone struggling with suicidal thoughts, everyday tasks can seem overwhelming and difficult. You can show support by helping them with laundry, getting them groceries or making them a meal.

Suggest Professional Care

You can gently encourage them to go to therapy and make the steps of organizing it easier for them. Perhaps you can help them make the appointment or drive to their sessions with them. When encouraging professional care, it is important to ensure them that they are not “weak” for seeking help and that they aren’t alone in needing help either.

If you or someone you know would like to schedule a counseling session with Eugene Therapy, you can request an appointment today. Our compassionate mental health therapists can listen and provide support in a safe, non-judgemental environment.

Additional Resources & Articles

Call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255).

Access the crisis text line by texting TALK to 741-741 to text with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free, 24/7.

Call CAHOOTS Crisis Assistance in Eugene at 541-682-5111.

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