Suicide Prevention: How You Can Help
A high school student died from suicide this week. To the family, friends, the high school, and the community that's being impacted by this tragic loss.... me condolences and I wish you peace and healing.
Veterans, under-served communities, overworked and burdened adults, to teens....we are all impacted by suicide either directly or indirectly.
I wanted to share some tips that I learned from Davidson Lifeline and tools that I've picked up along the way through clinical experience. Hopefully this can help everyone know what to do in a concerning situation where you suspect someone is struggling and your heart is telling you to do something.
Instead of CPR, Davidson Lifeline calls it QPR. For more information please check out this link:
In summary, QPR stands for question, persuade, and refer.
If someone seems like they are isolating more than usual, drinking more, seeming more in despair ASK THEM if they are ok. ASK THEM if they are struggling with suicidal thoughts?
The more clear and non-judgemental the question, the better.
*BE PREPARED TO LISTEN.*
If they are talking to you, consider silencing your phone and eliminating distraction because you may be the only person who has asked, noticed, or is trying to help.
Almost always, they want to be asked, they want help, and want to talk about it.
Get them to fight for life.
Do they have an animal they love? Do they love doing something like art or reading or hiking? Connect them to an organization, club, or group that aligns with their interest. If they have a fury friend, how would the dog feel if they were gone? This can help someone come back from "the ledge."
Do you know them well enough to point out their strengths?
Do you have a time in your life that you really struggled emotionally?
I was trained to never disclose our own "stuff" with patients but recently, I learned that with teens, that is not recommended. By disclosing that you might know a little bit about feeling despair, hopelessness, or depression yourself, this makes you relatable. Perhaps you were suicidal at one point in your life. This might be a time to share your story. Not that you know EXACTLY what they are going through, but that this is what you did to pull yourself through. Maybe something in your life will resonate with them. Be a little vulnerable with them because THEY ARE VULNERABLE too.
Every workplace, school, or organization should have counselors and mental health practitioners in their contacts or resources. Getting them referred to a professional is the best thing you can do because this isn't your area of expertise.
You simply asking how they are, checking in with them, and connecting them to the right people can mean SAVING A LIFE.
YOU ARE a light in the world. Someone out there is following you as you light their way.