A suicidal patient will not ask for help, but that doesn’t mean that he/she doesn’t need it. People who become suicidal do not necessarily want to end their lives, they just want their sufferings to end. You can prevent suicide by recognizing the warning signs and by taking necessary actions. If you think a friend or a family member is undergoing too much stress and suffering and is considering suicide, please talk to him/her. You may feel scared to bring up the subject but talking to them about their suicidal thoughts and feelings is the only way to help them.
When you see or know someone in pain who wants to end their life, follow these steps to help them get through their suicidal thoughts.
- Talk, talk and talk: Let the person know you care about him/her and that they aren’t alone. Listen to what they want to share and help them vent their feelings and anger. Be sympathetic, calm and non-judgmental while listening to their feelings. Offer hope by reassuring the person that help is available, and these feelings are temporary. Let them know the importance of their life to you and to their family and friends.
- Get professional help: Do everything you can to get help for a suicidal person. Call an emergency mental help facility for advice and referrals. Encourage the person to seek professional aid and visit a mental health counsellor. Help locate a good psychiatrist or make the doctor’s appointment for them.
- Follow-up: Make note of what the doctor prescribes - be it medications or just therapy. Make sure the suicidal person is following the instructions given and taking the medicines on time. Know the side effects of the medicines and notify the doctor in case the person gets worse. It takes time and persistence to find the right treatment plan for every suicidal person.
- Be proactive: The person contemplating suicide often feels they cannot be helped. So, you need to be more proactive in offering help. Drop by every alternate day and call daily to check on them. Just don’t stop at saying, “call me if you need anything," as it sounds too vague and it’s very likely that the person will not bother calling.
- Positive affirmations: Maintain a positive atmosphere around the suicidal person. Encourage them with positive affirmations and healthy lifestyle changes to keep them healthy and happy. Ensure that a healthy diet, 30 minutes of exercise and plenty of sleep forms part of their day. Daily exercise is important as exercising releases endorphins which are happy hormones that help relieve stress and promote emotional well-being.
- Plan: Make the person develop a set of steps that they should follow during their suicidal crisis. Help them identify their trigger that leads to the suicidal crisis such as the anniversary of a loss, alcohol or stress due to work or love relationships. Include contact numbers of the therapist, as well as close friends and family members along with yours who will be there in case of an emergency.
- Continue your support long-term: Even after the immediate suicidal tendency has passed, stay in touch with the person and periodically keep checking on them. Your support is necessary to ensure their well-being and that they remain on the track to recovery.
There are times when you may fail despite following all these steps. Do not blame yourself. You did the right thing by helping the suicidal person. Just follow the above steps and try to help as many people as possible.
Mental well-being is the most important and needed state in order to be healthy. Stay happy, stay healthy!
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