September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and here at Novo Life Counseling, we want you to know that there are a lot of resources, information, and support out there for those who are struggling with suicide themselves or those of you who have loved ones you wish to support. Last week, we posted information about the facts, signs, and myths of suicide, suicidal thinking, and support. This week, I’d like to provide some (but definitely not all!) resources so that you can seek further learning and know what you can do to help yourself or your loved ones.
Things to consider:
You’ve likely heard it once, but we’ll say it again, “Talking about suicide will not make the person commit suicide.”
It may sound intimidating, but talking openly and asking the question, “Are you thinking about hurting yourself?” or “Are you thinking about ending your life?” could make a meaningful impact. Studies show that asking this does not increase a person’s likelihood to attempt suicide. As a person who cares about the suicidal individual, make sure to validate the person’s experience. Let them talk. Listen to what they say. Let them know you’re there for them and that you’re going to help them find help.
Suicide is preventable.
Suicide does not have to be inevitable. Know the warning signs, understand that a suicidal person may not reach out for help and this makes it important for you to reach out, know that there are resources out there to help you if you’re struggling. I have worked with clients who’ve had a clear set plan to end their life, got the help they needed, and are living vibrant and full lives today.
Suicidal thoughts are not something to be ashamed of.
In my grad program, I had a wise and compassionate professor say that it’s not necessarily “have you” had suicidal thoughts but “when was the last time” you’ve had suicidal thoughts. We’ve all had moments of extreme stress, pain, worry, etc. that we’ve had some sort of thought about it being over. It’s important to understand that when these thoughts cause you distress, to make a plan, to obsess over the thought, to harm yourself in other ways that are not life-threatening, it is extremely important to talk to someone. You don’t want those thoughts to get out of control and cause you more distress or lead you to make a plan. So don’t wait. Get help TODAY.
Resources for those who are struggling:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) is there for you literally any second of the day, every single day of the year. This lifeline number is there for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is confidential. Middle of the night, during the work day, right at dinnertime...ANY TIME. Individuals who are trained to help with people who are suicidal are available to talk with you and listen.
Find a therapist or support group. There are many therapists that specialize in working with people who are struggling with suicide. You can also join a therapeutic group where you can get community and gain peer support from people who are also struggling and understand your situation. Psychology Today is a great place to search for therapists. On the sidebar, you can indicate different specifiers like type of insurance taken, your presenting issues, gender preference, language spoken, etc. This tool will help you to find a therapist or group near you to get the help you need.
Cultivate a safety net of support people. Bearing this burden alone can exacerbate your feelings of loneliness and despair. Cultivating a supportive and loving group of people who can walk with you through this season is a huge piece to working through suicidal thoughts. This group of people should include individuals who you can be vulnerable with and can potentially call on if you experience moments of intense distress. Friends, family members, co-workers, therapist, primary care doctor, nutritionist, psychiatrist, and therapeutic group members are examples of who can be a part of this safety net.
Develop a safety plan. This is something you’d likely develop with a therapist, however, you can do this with a trusted loved one as well. A safety plan should include things like, “If I am feeling like hurting myself, here are three people I can call/places I can go/things I can do/ etc.” Develop a plan that includes people you can reach out to (this can and should include the suicide lifeline), self-soothing skills that you can use to lower your distress, and whatever you can come up with to support yourself and keep yourself safe. This can also include removing dangerous items from your home like guns, knives, medications, etc. More tips on how you can do this can be found on the National Suicide Prevention website.
You can find all these resources and more on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.
Resources for those supporting loved ones:
You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). If you’re a person who is supporting a loved one who is suicidal, this line is for you too. The trained volunteers and professionals will give you local resources and can help you learn more about the topic of suicide as well as more specific details about how you can help your loved one. It is also confidential for you as well.
Understand the action steps to supporting a person who is suicidal. 1. Ask them if they’re considering killing themselves. 2. Keep them safe. 3. Be there for them. 4. Help them connect. 5. And follow up. Visit #BeThe1To to learn more about these steps and how these action steps can help your loved one.
Be an active listener. This goes for all relationships, but we won’t see warning signs or be aware of someone’s struggle if we aren’t paying attention. Active listening requires us to listen to understand rather than listen to respond. Hold back your own opinions and comments and allow the person to express what is distressing them. Holding space for someone’s pain can mean the beginning of their healing.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). If this is a life-threatening emergency, dial 911 or head to your nearest emergency room.