Today is World Mental Health Day. This year’s theme is suicide prevention.
As the stigma of having a mental illness lifts, I’m constantly surprised at the amount of people I know that live with a mental illness of some kind. The number of friends and family that have considered or attempted suicide (including myself) was shocking – to say the least. As I treated my own mental illness with therapy and medication, I started reaching out and helping others. I used my story and experiences to show people that things could get better. I became an advocate for ending the stigma behind mental illness.
I’ve spoken to many people in my personal and professional life who were suicidal. Knowing someone you are speaking to feels so low and hopeless that they want to die can be a very overwhelming feeling. Below I’ve listed some tips to use when you come across someone who is feeling suicidal:
- Ask – Be direct and ask if they are thinking about suicide
- Help keep them safe – If they have made plans of suicide, ask their plans (how, when) and try to remove their means from their immediate reach
- Be there for them – Whether physically, on the phone, or via text, just talking to someone who is suicidal shows them that someone cares and can give them hope for a better tomorrow.
- Help them Connect – Help them find resources for professional help. Whether that means scheduling an appointment with a therapist they already have, helping them find one for the first time, or taking them to the hospital if they do not feel they can keep themselves safe.
- Follow up – Check in with them and see how they are doing. Often suicidal ideation doesn’t go away immediately so it can help to show them you are there, not just in that moment.
- Know your limits – it is okay if you are overwhelmed with the situation and need to ask for help. Reach out to a crisis hotline, a mental health professional or whomever else you think can help you
I encourage you to reach out to your friends today (and every day) – whether they deal with mental illness or not. Check in with people, be honest and open, be sincere, show them you care even if you are too busy to show it often.
If you or someone you know is in crisis please start a crisis chat here or call your local emergency number.