It’s National Suicide Prevention Week. Instead of writing LOVE on your arms and reblogging awareness posts, EDUCATE yourself.
Things you should do if someone you know is suicidal:
- TAKE IT SERIOUSLY. Suicidal behavior is a cry for help - NOT attention. You can’t assume to know what that person is going through, as pain is immeasurable and situations are incomparable. Depression and suicidal thoughts can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race, class, gender, sex, sexuality, religion, political affiliation, fandom, you name it.
- BE DIRECT. If you suspect that someone is suicidal, ASK THEM IF THEY ARE. If they are suicidal, you are not putting ideas into their head; you’re just showing your concern. If they are not suicidal, then you’re also not putting ideas into their head.
- ASK THEM ABOUT THEIR PLAN. If you’re aware that they are suicidal, ask them the following questions: Do you know how you’re going to do it? Do you have the means to carry it out? (IE if they say they’re going to overdose on pills, ask them if they have the pills.) When are you planning on doing it?
- DO NOT KEEP IT A SECRET. If you know someone who is talking about committing suicide, now is not a good time to swear to secrecy to preserve your friendship. Preserving their life is more important at the moment. ESPECIALLY if they are planning on committing suicide immediately, CALL 911 (or the emergency number in your area). Additionally, telling a family member about this person’s suicidal thoughts is a good idea. You shouldn’t have to carry the burden of their secret alone - and more importantly, they shouldn’t have to be alone.
- DO NOT LEAVE THEM ALONE. Keep them talking. Listen to them. (Understand that you don’t know exactly what they’re going through. Even if you’ve been there before, every situation is different.) Don’t undermine or invalidate their pain with statements like, “Things aren’t that bad!” Don’t tell them to look “on the bright side” or “for the silver lining.” Don’t shame them into changing their mind. Insisting that they have so much to live for is shaming. Instead, talk with them about how their feelings are real but temporary, help is available, treatment is available, and life can get better. Acknowledge that their pain is real. MAKE THE CONVERSATION ABOUT THEM. Make sure they know that you are here to listen and support them.
- ENCOURAGE GETTING PROFESSIONAL HELP. Find a national or local hotline number. Give them the contact information for a local mental health center. Let them know that there is nothing wrong with needing therapy or medication - it’s okay to need a cast for a broken leg, so why should it not be okay to need medication and/or therapy for when your brain isn’t doing what it should be? There is no fault in needing help. There is no shame in not being able to cope on your own. Everyone needs help sometimes. If you know someone who is suicidal, DO NOT HESITATE TO HELP THEM.