The Suicide Prevention Toolkit
Today is a guest post by Melissa Howard who runs the StopSuicide website. Last month Melissa shared with us Suicide Prevention and Emotional Wellness in the 21st Century. Prevention is key and we wanted to expand on that. I am aware that this is an emotional topic and not an easy one to discuss but we need to get over our discomfort. It is important to ask after the emotional well being of others and listen to their responses. If you have a story you want to tell along the lines of this topic, please reach out to me here. Note that I am not a professional, my goal for those who need these resources to have easy access to them and to know that they are not alone.
Virtually everyone has been impacted by the devastating effects of suicide. Some have experienced the tragic loss of a family member or friend, while others personally face the heart-wrenching consideration of committing suicide. Regardless of the circumstances that have brought you to this point, there is hope. Prevention is possible, and it is never too late to bring joy back into your life.
If you or someone close to you is experiencing suicidal thoughts—even if it’s just a possibility— you should be fully prepared to help. Stockpile your suicide prevention toolkit with resources, statistics and long-term prevention techniques. Don’t wait for an emergency to reach out for help or to learn how you can prevent suicide.
For immediate, emergency suicide prevention resources, there are a variety of organizations waiting to help. The 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is readily available for emergency phone calls year-round. You can also contact a specialized counselor, clinic, hospital, or a local pastor to speak about your situation in confidence. For immediate emergency help in preventing a loved one from attempting suicide, call 911 or your local police station. Personnel involved in these services are trained to direct a potential victim to a hospital, facility, or counselor who can help.
One percent of deaths are the result of suicide, which makes it one of the top 10 leading causes of death in America. While there are a variety of saddening reasons people make this choice, substance abuse is one of the main causes of suicide, second only to depression or similar emotional disorders. This means that drug users are six times more likely to attempt suicide, and one third of those with suicidal thoughts use drugs or may have a drug dependency, such as heroin addiction. Those who struggle with suicidal thoughts induced by substance abuse should seek help from a rehabilitation center. These facilities are staffed with trained personnel who are prepared to monitor clients and prevent potential harm.
Long-Term Prevention Techniques
It is important that lethal substances, weapons, or potentially harmful situations are removed from the environment of anyone recently suicidal. Keep dangerous chemicals, or medications away from someone during their recovery, as these could cause suicidal thoughts or have serious, fatal side effects. Instead, create a system in which they need permission from a trusted counselor or doctor each time they need to use these kinds of items or medicines. Someone may need to temporarily live with them to ensure their 24-hour safety. Other family members or friends may also need to be on standby to assist and/or monitor a person with suicidal tendencies, until they are safe to be on their own.
After the initial suicidal thought or attempt has subsided, encourage the person to maintain a continual relationship with a counselor. Even if they eventually feel comfortable decreasing the number of meetings, encourage them to have a follow-up session once every few months. Sometimes we need a healthy, honest evaluation of our progress, from someone who has walked with us from the beginning.
The most important tool you can use to prevent suicide is to be open and honest with those you love. If you are having suicidal thoughts, share them with someone you trust and ask for help. If you notice unusual actions or suicidal comments from a friend, speak with them about their well-being, and urge them to seek additional, professional help.
Spend quality time with those around you, and live a life that you thoroughly enjoy. Already, life is too short to allow stress, emotional disorders, or substance abuse to make it shorter. Take action today to help prevent suicide.