So I am now a recognized suicide alert helper and have been trained in how to facilitate intervention for people contemplating suicide and those in crisis.
The workshop I took was pretty heavy, as can be expected because of the seriousness of the topic. Made even more serious because of my personal experience with suicide. But I’m very glad I went and I think it will be an important part in my healing.
A couple of the most important take-aways for me were:
– Know your resources. Anyone has the ability to be a helper, but very few people actually have the means to help solve the problem. Often the most constructive thing you can do is realize that you likely don’t have the solution nor is it your responsibility to. People are often reluctant to help because they think they won’t be able to or they’re not sure what to do. What you CAN to do, is connect sufferers with other trained professionals who can help them help themselves. You can support them in finding help and the more resources you are aware of for that help, the better. Keep them in your wallet or on your phone or something!
– Be direct. Talking about suicide openly and directly is the best way to raise awareness and break the stigma. If you’re not direct, you might not get the answers that could save someone’s life. You’re not going to make it worse – talking about suicide DOES NOT increase the incidence of suicide nor is it “suggestive” to vulnerable populations.
Suicide is an emotionally loaded word for many people, but it’s far better to struggle through a hard conversation than to see another lose this deadly battle. The very nature of this being a difficult conversation reinforces just how important it really is.
– Know what to look for. Being aware about the warning signs can help you notice if there may be cause to worry and gives you an opportunity to express that worry to someone you know.
No one is immune to thoughts of suicide. The potential to think about suicide is part of the human condition. Make no assumptions based on external appearances or prior experiences.
Knowing what to look for also helps YOU, if you were to fall into a bad place you might be able to recognize things before its too late.
Expressing your concern lets others know that you are available to talk should they need it (at that moment or if the need arises in the future). Maybe they hadn’t realized that they were showing signs of struggling and this expression of concern might alert them to what’s going on in their lives. Humans are innately social beings, so the offer of help, while hard to accept, will be appreciated.
More often than not people who are thinking of suicide give indications of it (even unconsciously). These indications maybe be subtle but they also might not! Things like changes is temperament or disposition, appetite, mood, energy levels, sleeping and eating patterns may be clues to underlying suicidal ideation. Other lifestyle changes like increased risk-taking behaviours, withdrawal, aggression, grief, impulsivity, or alcohol and drug misuse are often correlated. If someone is less subtle in their invitations to help, do not dismiss it! Talk of wanting to die or “give up”, while blunt, can often be misinterpreted as a joke. For everyone’s safety it’s better to take everything seriously unless you have reason to believe otherwise.
People considering suicide don’t want to die, they just want their pain to end.