When someone close to us is thinking about suicide, we might feel helpless and powerless, and wonder what we should or shouldn’t do to help. Although it can sometimes be difficult to start a dialogue with someone at risk for suicide about their well-being, it is very important: friends and family can play a key role in suicide prevention. At some point in our lives, each of us may have to take action to help support a friend, relative or colleague.
Suicide is not typically about wanting to end life, but about ending unbearable pain. Opening up a conversation with someone about what they are thinking or experiencing can help change their perception of themselves (“I’m worthless”), others (“No one can help me”) and the future (“My situation will never change”).
Talking about suicide saves lives - Dave Morissette, 2019
Talking about suicide saves lives - Colin Boudrias and Alexandre Forest, 2019
Talking about suicide saves lives - Marc-André Dufour, 2018
Suicide is a complex issue. There is no single reason why people die by suicide. Some people have lost a loved one to suicide after that person verbalized their intentions. Others have tried to ask the question but did not get a clear answer or never had the opportunity to discuss it. Talking is unfortunately no guarantee that the person will not act on their thoughts or that they will get better faster. Friends and family can play a role in helping someone, but they are not responsible for that person’s well-being and actions. Loved ones do what they can with the information they have.
Have you witnessed a disturbing message? Be proactive and refer the person to resources that can help as soon as possible. These actions can make a difference in protecting people online who may be vulnerable or need help.
Important: contact a healthcare or social services professional right away if someone tells you they are having suicidal thoughts.
Talking about suicide saves lives - Lucas Philip Alcantara, 2018