Taking a threat of suicide seriously
To deal with an issue means we need to talk about it.
But, for many, even saying the word suicide can be a challenge. And we certainly never expect someone considering suicide to just tell us about such thoughts—which means we need to be aware of the signs and symptoms if we are to prevent suicide.
In fact, talking about it is the first step to suicide prevention. In fact, one of the most significant things you can do is to talk to someone if you have concerns.
Say that you are worried. That you love them. That you care. And listen.
But when do you say these things? Here are potential questions to consider if you are concerned:
- Is the person starting to give away things?
- Perhaps starting to say his or her “goodbyes”?
- Is the person making statements such as, “I am not worried as it won’t be much longer,” or “I know you will be ok afterwards,” or “I just want to get it over with.”
- Are there increases in substance use?
- Is the person withdrawing and isolating from hobbies, family, friends, and so on?
- Are there risk factors present such as mental health conditions, access to weapons (especially firearms) and previous attempts at suicide or a family history of suicide?
Always take such statements and threats of suicide seriously.
In fact, asking questions or talking about suicide will notput the idea in someone’s head. Research shows the opposite often occurs.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (www.afsp.org) notes that the annual age-adjusted suicide rate is 13.42 per 100,000 individuals with an average of 123 suicides per day.Pennsylvania’s rate is higher, with 14.66 per 100,000 individuals, ranking 27 in the United States.
There are no magic words, gestures or objects to “fix” an individual, so don’t focus on trying to find a quick solution to an individual about whom you are concerned.
Rather, spend time talking to the person at risk, lock up weapons and offer support. And always take time to listen—and to seek professional help as needed.
Because we review comments, they do not appear immediately. Please do not submit each comment more than once. Please review our comment policy.