Recently, I had a friend call and ask if I could help a co-worker who was struggling with his 15-year-old daughter. Of course, as someone in the mental health industry, I automatically said yes. Not knowing what was going to be asked of me, I called this father who was looking for advice and my heart sank as I listened to him talk. He told me that the previous night his daughter had taken some pills. She was okay physically, but when he asked her if she did it as an attempt to commit suicide she said “yes.” As you can imagine for anyone in this situation, the shock, the sadness, the pain and the “what do I do” as a parent is indescribable. We talked through next steps and options for his family.
The outcome to this story could have been quite different. Every year, thousands of individuals die by suicide and these numbers continue to increase. We can all help to reverse this trend. Here are three simple ways to be a positive force.
- Know the Warning Signs
- talking about feeling hopeless
- talking about being a burden to others
- withdrawing or isolating
- talking about wanting to die
- increased use of substances like alcohol
- increase or decrease in sleeping patterns
- Spread the Word about crisis services in your area or national services like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that provides free confidential 24/7 support by phone (1.800.273.TALK ) or online chat www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
- Break the Taboo – Help to break the fear and the myths surrounding suicide by making it okay to talk about. Remaining silent is not the answer. Have conversations that support safe and accurate messaging and promote hope and healing. For example, don’t be afraid to ask those struggling with depression if they have thoughts of suicide. They may be relieved to have the opportunity to share.
For more ideas and information on how you can help prevent suicide, refer to this excellent resource from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.
This blog article was contributed by Paula Minske, MS, LMFT, Vice President of Clinical Services at Nexus Family Healing.
Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health services, foster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 45 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org.