We can FIX suicide by asking directly about suicide: are you thinking about suicide?
We need to show that we care. We need to show that we have the courage to talk about suicide. We need to ensure that the person at risk is not isolated with their suicidal thoughts or suicidal plan. We need to get suicide out into the open.
We may feel uncomfortable asking directly about suicide or even saying the word ‘suicide’. But according to the Samaritans evidence shows that asking someone if they’re suicidal can protect them. It does not put the idea of suicide into their heads. By asking them directly about suicide, you give the person permission to tell you how they feel and let them know that they are not a burden.
People who have felt suicidal will often say what a huge relief it was to be able to talk about what they were experiencing.
Please do not avoid the word ‘suicide’ by saying things like: “I hope you’re not going to do something silly”, or “I hope you’re not going to harm yourself.”
Ask directly about suicide. You can do this by first letting the person know what prompted you to ask. You can talk about the ‘combat indicators’ by saying something like:
I’ve noticed that you seem really agitated and restless, you’re drinking more on your own, you’re withdrawing from friendships, and saying things like ‘what’s the point?’ I’m really concerned about you and I’m wondering whether you are thinking about suicide. Are you thinking about suicide?
This needs to be done in a kind and supportive way which is free of any judgement or blame. This is not about you and how you feel. It is about letting the person know that they are important and that this is serious. Do not make them feel guilty or accuse them of ‘just wanting attention’ or of ‘being selfish.’
There is every possibility that the person at risk of suicide does not want to answer the question directly or wants to avoid it. They may not want to appear weak. They may not want to be a burden. But you must be confident in your identification of the combat indicators of suicide and gently persevere, with courage, to fix the enemy: suicide. You must be genuine in your care and show that you can be trusted.
If after you have asked: are you thinking about suicide? They do not answer convincingly, then listen to their behaviour, rather than their words. Some people just cannot articulate their deep pain. Some people have been rejected so many times, or told their story only to be let down. They do not have the energy anymore. If you’re not convinced that that they are safe from suicide, then you need to continue to try and help them stay safe. You must let them know that this is serious.
Your kindness, your patience, your understanding and your presence may be enough to reduce their sense of isolation or their feeling that they can’t be helped or that people would be better off without them.
So you FIX suicide by asking directly and openly about suicide, letting the person know that you care, and letting the person know that this is really serious. Emphasise: “This is really serious.”
Then you STRIKE suicide by listening.
The next video will help you STRIKE suicide