Last week we talked about understanding suicide and the major warning signs to help reduce risk. While it’s one thing to acknowledge invitations or warning signs for suicide, it’s another thing entirely to take action and support a loved one displaying these warning signs. You may be wondering, “Where would I even start?”
While not every suicide can be prevented, there are things we can do as individuals to help make a world of difference to someone who may be suffering in silence.
How can I help a loved one?
If you’re concerned about someone else, talk with them. Don’t let the stigma associated with suicide keep you from having a conversation that could save a person’s life.
Ask them directly if they’re thinking about suicide. Talking about suicide won’t give them the idea. If someone is seriously considering suicide, they may be relieved that they can talk about it with someone.
If someone you love says that they’re thinking about ending their life, it’s important to ask them if they have a plan. If they have a plan and intend to end their life soon, connect with crisis services or supports right away. If someone you know is in crisis, contact COAST at 1-866-550-5205 (ext. 1). This crisis line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, however, please note that COAST is not a rapid response service. For life-threatening emergencies call 9-1-1. Stay with your loved one while you make the call, and don’t leave until the crisis line or emergency responders say you can leave.
The two most important things you can do are listen and help them connect with mental health services.
Here are tips for talking with a loved one:
- Find a private place and let your loved one take as much time as they need.
- Take your loved one seriously and listen without judgement—their feelings are very real.
- Keep your word—don’t make promises you can’t keep or don’t intend to keep.
- Tell your loved one that they are important and that you care about them.
If your loved one already sees a doctor or other mental health service provider, it’s important that they tell their service provider about any thoughts of suicide they may have been having. Depending on your relationship, you can offer to help—by helping your loved one schedule appointments or by taking them to their appointments, for example.
If your loved one doesn’t see a mental health service provider, you can give them the phone number for a local crisis line (such as COAST or the Distress Centre Niagara) and encourage them to see their doctor. Your loved one may also be able to access services through their school, workplace, cultural or faith community.
Supporting a loved one can be a difficult experience for anyone, so it’s important to take care of your own mental health during this time and seek support if you need it. If you do need support, Walk-In Counselling might be the right service for you.
LOCAL SERVICES SNAPSHOT
- COAST (24/7 Crisis Line) 1-866-550-5205
- Urgent Support Services
- Walk-In Counselling
- Distress Centre Niagara