Each day, more than 120 Americans die by suicide. That equals more than one person dying by suicide every 80 minutes. For the past few years, suicide has been considered as one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
While there are a variety of reasons that may contribute to someone attempting suicide, there are also many people who are affected by someone else’s suicide. Suicide may affect others in a variety of ways. As such, it’s important to be aware of the warning signs so that you can help a friend in need.
1. Learn the warning signs
In order to effectively help a friend in need, you must be aware of the warning signs that may indicate that someone is at risk of committing suicide. While there are many reasons why someone may attempt suicide, the most common warning signs are discussed below.
Marked change in behavior: If a friend in need begins to exhibit changes in behavior, such as becoming reckless, unusually anxious or agitated, or withdrawn, they should be considered at risk for suicide.
Increased alcohol or drug use: Some individuals who are suicidal will turn to alcohol or drugs to self-medicate. If a friend in need is abusing drugs or alcohol, they should be considered at risk for suicide.
Pill popping: One of the warning signs of suicide is “pill-popping,” which refers to the act of opening a pill bottle and taking one or two pills. If a friend in need is doing this, they should be considered at risk for suicide.
2. Listen without judgment
Asking a friend in need what they’re thinking or why they’re doing something can allow you to better understand their actions and motivations. However, when talking to a friend in need, it’s important to maintain a nonjudgemental tone.
This is because people who are suicidal often feel judged by others and are likely to close themselves off from those around them. By keeping your tone nonjudgemental, you’re able to maintain a relationship with this person while helping them at the same time.
If you’re not sure how to talk to a friend in need about suicide, ask them to open up to you. You can also look online for resources that discuss how to talk to a friend who is experiencing suicidal thoughts.
3. Remove access to lethal means
If a friend in need is exhibiting any of the warning signs listed above, you should immediately remove any access they may have to potentially lethal means. This could include removing firearms from the house, hiding medications that could be used to overdose, or changing the locks on their medicine cabinet.
You should also warn family members and/or significant others about the potential for suicide. This is because someone who is suicidal may feel a great deal of shame or guilt and may not want to take their own life. By intervening at this point, you may be able to prevent suicide.
4. Be a source of comfort
Asking a friend in need if they want to talk or are open to listening can help to break the silence that often surrounds suicide. You can also offer to talk to a friend about your own experiences with suicide or offer to be a sounding board for their thoughts.
Offering support and comfort to a friend in need is an important way to help. While you shouldn’t tell a friend in need that they’ll survive if they don’t want to, you can try to be there for them by listening without judgment and providing a source of comfort.
5. Ask for help if needed
If a friend in need continues to exhibit signs of suicidal ideation after you’ve intervened to remove access to lethal means, you should consider getting help for them. This may include calling the hotline of a suicide prevention organization or going to a therapist.
By getting help for a friend in need, you can help to prevent suicide and also provide support during this difficult time. You can also learn more about how to talk to a friend who is experiencing suicidal thoughts.
6. Set healthy boundaries
Asking a friend in need to seek help or get professional treatment for their suicidal thoughts or actions is a healthy boundary that can help to prevent suicide.
You should also set healthy boundaries with friends who are at risk of suicide. This could include limiting the time that you spend with them, taking a “time out” if things become too overwhelming, or asking them to take some sort of action that helps to reduce their stress.
7. Commit to improving mental health care
The United States is in the midst of a mental health care crisis. In order to improve the mental health of all Americans, it’s important that we increase funding for programs that provide assistance to those in need, such as counseling, therapy, and mental health care.
At the same time, it’s important that we hold ourselves accountable for improving our mental health as well. This means that we have to actively work towards healing from the societal stigma that is attached to mental illness.
Suicide affects people from all walks of life, and there is no single way to help a friend who is suicidal. While it is important to be aware of the warning signs discussed above, it is equally important to remain patient while also showing love and support.
Ultimately, the best way to help a friend who is suicidal is to open up and be there for them. This can allow a friend in need to seek help and get the support that they need.
If you or anyone you know is in an emergency situation and needs help right away, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for 24/7 support.
Knoxville Recovery Is Here For You
Depression and suicide can affect anyone. If you or a loved one are currently struggling with this, help is available! We encourage you to reach out to the professionals at Knoxville Recovery Center to learn more about our personalized treatment programs and mental health services.
Knoxville Recovery Center was founded from firsthand experience of addiction and recovery, with a mission of providing a space where people can heal from addiction and other disorders in a compassionate, creative, open-minded, and heart-centered environment. We believe recovery is always possible. Our experts work with you to design a treatment plan that fits your needs. Common treatment programs include:
- Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)
- On-site Detox
- Full-time Addiction Treatment on campus
- Mental Health Treatment
- Aftercare Services
Contact us today for more information about how our programs and services can help you get your life back on track. You no longer have to struggle with depression and suicidal ideation on your own. We are here to help.