We defeat the enemy: suicide, by FINDing suicidal thoughts and behaviours, by FIXing suicide with direct and open talk about suicide, by STRIKEing at suicide’s influence and power by listening to, accepting, understanding and valuing the person at risk from suicide, and we EXPLOIT suicide’s weakness and remove suicide’s power by helping the person at risk keep themselves safe.
Keeping the person safe may require immediate action and removal of the means they were going to use to complete suicide. Ask them: “How were you going to end your life?” What was your suicide plan?”
You must remain calm and not panic, but try to convince them to agree with you to disable the suicide plan. If it is clear that you need immediate help and professional assistance, then you may need to call emergency services or contact the Samaritans on 116 123.
At all times you must do your best to let the person at risk feel in control. It is not our job to save the life of the person at risk of suicide. It is our job to help them save their own lives. Do not rush them. It is their life, and ultimately it is their responsibility. They just may not feel worth it or valued enough to feel they have a life worth saving.
Emphasise: “This is really important. I cannot take a risk on losing you. You must be kept safe from suicide.”
Keep listening, keep showing understanding, keep showing that you genuinely care.
Remember that suicide is defeated when someone feels genuinely valued and not alienated, and when someone does not feel like a burden.
So you could start to create a ‘safety plan’ with the person by asking them and writing down which friends and family they can trust to help them when they are in a crisis.
You could also ask the person which support agencies they would trust and could contact. This might involve doing a search together on a smartphone or computer for helplines. This might also involve getting in touch with a veterans’ support organisation.
The person at risk of suicide is going to need ongoing support. There’s lots out there.
But the most important support is first of all the support they give themselves by accepting themselves as worthy of love, and worthy of life, and then the support of trustworthy friends like you, someone who is able and willing to give the person unconditional love and acceptance.