Asking for help is often not easy, especially when it’s you who is feeling down, overwhelmed, irritable or anxious. Talk to someone.
Asking for help is often not easy, especially when it’s you who is feeling down, overwhelmed, irritable or anxious. Our tendency is to think it will just go away, or even believe those negative messages that run through our heads that say things like: “Maybe I’m just no good.”
Some people begin to have suicidal thoughts. But thoughts of ending your own life do not necessarily mean that you truly want to die—they mean, rather, that you have more pain than you can cope with right now. The pain of deep depression is intense. It is too much to bear for long periods of time.
But even if you’re in a lot of pain, give yourself some distance between thoughts and action. Make a promise to yourself, “I will wait 24 hours or longer and won’t do anything drastic during that time.”
Thoughts and actions are two different things—your suicidal thoughts do not have to become a reality.
Talk to someone who has experience helping people in your situation:
Avoid using drugs and alcohol when you are feeling desperate or in a crisis. Although it is tempting to try to use them to try to numb painful feelings, they can make your emotions more volatile, and affect your judgment. Using drugs or alcohol while you are in crisis will greatly increase your risk of hurting or killing yourself impulsively, even though you may not have fully decided to do that.
Right now, if you are struggling with suicidal thoughts,
contact someone…Just know real help is available.
Having the Hard Conversation
If your child talks about dying and not wanting to live anymore or is continuously down and not doing any of the things she enjoy, you must start talking to her about suicide. This is a hard conversation topic for anyone. Some people think talking about suicide causes suicide to occur. That is not true. In fact, talking about suicide can be an excellent prevention tool. People who are not suicidal reject the idea, and people who may be thinking about it often welcome the chance to talk. They feel someone else recognizes their pain.
As a parent, you must accept the possibility that your child may be at risk of suicide.
Then, ask these questions:
If your child answers yes to these questions, you need to get help immediately, do not leave your child alone. Reassure her that help is available and that you will assist her in finding the right help. Be careful you do not take over and try to ‘fix’ things for your child.
Making significant changes can be a long process and there will be some bumps along the way. The journey begins with a conversation. It will take courage, time, space, patience and skill to start this conversation.
As many as one third of the people in Kentucky, suffer devastating and long lasting emotional trauma when a family member, friend, co-worker, neighbor or classmate dies as a result of suicide.
This is not just a Kentucky problem, but a national one. Each year nearly 30,000 people in the United States die by suicide — the devastated family and friends they leave behind are known as “survivors.” There are millions of survivors who, like you, are trying to cope with this heartbreaking loss.
Survivors often experience a wide range of grief reactions, including some or
all of the following:
These feelings usually diminish over time, as you develop your ability to cope and begin to heal.
Know that 90 percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death (most often depression or bipolar disorder). Just as people can die of heart disease or cancer, people can die as a consequence of mental illness. Try to bear in mind that suicide is almost always complicated, resulting from a combination of painful suffering, desperate hopelessness, and underlying psychiatric illness.
What Do I Do Now?
It’s important to remember that you can survive the pain. There may be times when you don’t think it’s possible, but it is.
Here is some guidance from fellow survivors:
SOS Signs of Suicide is a 2-day secondary school-based intervention that includes screening and education. Students are screened for depression and suicide risk and referred for professional help as indicated. Students also view a video that teaches them to recognize signs of depression and suicide in others. They are taught that the appropriate response to these signs is to acknowledge them, let the person know you care, and tell a responsible adult (either with the person or on that person’s behalf). Students also participate in guided classroom discussions about suicide and depression. The intervention attempts to prevent suicide attempts, increase knowledge about suicide and depression, develop desirable attitudes toward suicide and depression, and increase help-seeking behavior.
To find out how your Kentucky school district can qualify for a free middle or high school kit, please click on links below, or contact Kentucky SOS program coordinator Jan Ulrich at email@example.com or (502) 564-4456.
Gatekeepers are trained to know the signs of suicide and how to talk to a person about them and then guide them to the help they need. Gatekeepers become trained through QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training. This training can take as little as 90 minutes.
QPR stands for question, persuade, and refer. It is an educational program that teaches ordinary citizens how to recognize a mental health emergency and how to get a person at risk the help they need.
Gatekeepers include neighbors, parents, friends, teachers, squad leaders, foremen, doctors, police officers, ministers, firefighters, advisors, nurses, caseworkers, office supervisors, and many others who are strategically positioned to recognize and refer someone at risk of suicide.
Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help.
As a QPR-trained Gatekeeper you will learn to:
Please consider joining in the action plan to save lives in Kentucky. Gatekeeper training presentations can be adapted to your particular need, including content and length. Click an area close to you on the map for upcoming QPR meetings and events. You may also request more information about QPR and other ways to help prevent suide by sending a request to:firstname.lastname@example.org
QPR TRAINERS: Resource materials are available to assist QPR Trainers in their training and teaching procedures. For more information, please send a request to: email@example.com
QPR TRAINERS: Sign-Up for Email Updates: The “QPR Trainer” ListServe is for all QPR Trainers and provides interaction around QPR trainer specific information; if you are a QPR Trainer it is vital that you subscribe to this listserv to stay current with QPR training requirements, data, and practice communications–only QPR Trainers will be allowed to subscribe to this list. Names on this list are not shared with any other group. To be added to the QPR Trainer ListServe, please send a request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Challenges Working with Suicidal Clients
Working with a suicidal client, is more complex than simply knowing what questions to ask. The task of creating a context for accurate risk assessment is among the most challenging of clinical endeavors. It’s essential the environment created and managed by the clinician provide the patient a sense of safety and comfort that encourages he or she to disclose and discuss in detail feelings permeated by ambivalence.
In contrast to other clinical problems, ambivalence is a key concept in suicide risk assessment and management. Seemingly very minor aspects of the patient-clinician interaction can nudge ambivalence in one direction or the other, encouraging or discouraging a patient to be forthcoming about suicide plans, access to method, preparation or rehearsal and intent.
Given some of the distinctive challenges in working with clients at risk for suicide, it is imperative clinicians take advantage of training opportunities to expand their skill and competence. Despite its prevalence, training in suicide assessment and intervention is often inadequate. According to the American Association of Suicidology, the average clinician receives only about 2 hours of didactic training around suicidality.
Even professionals who work with patients at risk for suicide don’t always know all the suicidal symptoms, risk factors and self-injurious behavior common among clients in mental health and substance abuse treatment settings. As many as 50% of those who die by suicide every year were in psychiatric treatment at the time of their death. That’s why it’s vital for professionals to have all the information they need to help their clients. In one recent multi-site study (2001) 31% of the clients in outpatient mental health care reported suicidal ideation. Suicidality is the most frequently encountered emergency situation in mental health settings and is the most anxiety-provoking clinical scenario for practitioners. For more information about national clinical trainings visit these websites:
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
American Association of Suicidology
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Kentucky Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities
Seven County Services, Inc.
Suicide Prevention Resource Center
The following documents may also be useful in talking about suicide prevention:
Request DVD of “Let’s Talk” Kentuckians Affected by Suicide End the Silence or “School-based Suicide Prevention: A Matter of Life and Death” Videos: