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We can all help prevent suicide, says 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, the new national help number. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline wants everyone to know that suicide is not inevitable for anyone.
Many more people attempt suicide than die from it. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says that supports the idea that many who try suicide want their pain to end, not their life.
To help someone who is thinking about suicide, the key message has three parts: hope, healing and help.
So how can you help?
Most people thinking about suicide give some sign of their intentions. Learning the warning signs is essential to recognizing people who may be at risk.
Some of the major warning signs are:
Other risk factors include:
Speak UpMany people think that mentioning suicide to someone who may be at risk may be planting the idea of suicide. But that isn’t true. Openly expressing your concerns is an important way to help. It shows you care and want to understand.
Don’t be afraid to ask, “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” If the answer is yes, stay with them. Text or call 988, the three-digit dialing code connecting people to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Care for veterans is also available at 988.
Learn What to Say to HelpIt’s important to learn the right way to talk to someone who is thinking about suicide, says the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
Ask if they’d like to talk, and really listen without judging. Ask what would help them right then, without giving possible solutions. The key is to be there and then follow up, which might mean helping them reach out to mental health care providers. Encourage them to keep visits with those doctors and to continue with medicines or other treatments.
Friends and family can also take steps to make a safe place for someone who is at risk and learn how they might step in during a crisis, says the American Psychological Association.
Build Social TiesBeing closely linked to family and community support may decrease someone’s suicidal thoughts and actions, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Everyone can help support others. Build family resiliency by:
Encourage Mental Health CareGetting mental health care saves lives. If you know someone who is struggling, encourage them to reach out to their doctor for care. You could even show support by helping them schedule and get to that visit.
Talk About ItTalking about suicide is also a step toward decreasing the stigma tied to it. Stigma leads to silence, which does not help those touched by the loss. It can leave people feeling alone when facing the tragedy.
When someone dies by suicide, there is a chance to talk about suicide as a health issue that affects everyone, says NAMI.
Remember, if you or a loved one is having thoughts of harming themselves now, get help right away. You can call or text 988 or visit 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
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