Talking about suicide or asking someone if they feel suicidal will encourage suicide attempts.
The fact is, as a therapist I frequently ask my patients if they are having suicidal thoughts. This in no way is giving them the “idea” of suicide. Sometimes, we just have to come out and ask some-one if they truly are feeling this way or having these thoughts. This can open up the discussion so you can find out a little more of what is going on. Don’t be afraid to ask someone.
Once a person is intent on suicide, there is no way of stopping them.
There are a number of things we can do to stop someone from following through with their plans of suicide. We can sit and listen to them, non-judgmentally. We can help them find a therapist if they don’t already have one, or help them call their therapist for help. We can call the local crisis hotline or the national suicide hotline for help. If it is an emergency situation where the person has a weapon on them or they have a viable plan that they will enact soon, call 911 and get them some immediate help. When a person is in crisis and thinking that suicide is their only way out, they often times need someone to listen to them. They may need someone to remind them that they are not alone and that this is a temporary crisis that will end or get better at some point.
People who threaten suicide are just seeking attention.
How do you know that and are you willing to bet on it? Whenever someone is mentioning sui-cide, we need to take action. As stated above, often times this person in crisis just needs someone to talk to, someone to listen to them, someone to be supportive and empathetic. THAT attention can help save a life.
Only certain types of people become suicidal.
Suicidal thoughts can happen to anyone. It really depends on a number of factors such as their mental state, stressors, support system and perception of life. Someone can be extremely success-ful all of their life, have a family and make a lot of money but then something big changes, may-be they get a divorce or someone close to them passes away, these events can perpetuate the thoughts of suicide.
As a licensed therapist, I run the Adolescent IOP at The Behavioral Wellness Group and work with teens who struggle with suicidal thoughts, attempts, and self-harming behaviors. An IOP is a great way to help someone help themselves. IOP stands for Intensive Outpatient Therapy and meets 3x a week for 3 hours each time, making it intensive therapy. This is a great option to keep someone out of the hospital, but offer them the help they need. To learn the tools they need to help themselves when they are in a crisis could be invaluable.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact The Lake Coun-ty Crisis Hotline at 953-TALK or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273- TALK or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Erin Pawlak, MS, LPCC
Therapist and Adolescent IOP Director