In light of the recent celebrity suicides, you may be asking yourself what to do if you suspect that a friend or loved one is struggling with thoughts of ending their life. The topic of suicide can be very overwhelming and it’s understandable to feel at a loss of what to do about it. We strongly believe that the best step you can take in preventing suicide is to talk about it. Not only does talking about suicide work to dismantle some of the stigma surrounding the topic, it actually invites those struggling to report their thoughts and intentions that otherwise may not have come to light until it’s too late. There is little to be done in helping someone if we don’t know that they are suicidal or struggling with thoughts of suicide. Let’s all make a commitment to ask if we suspect something is wrong. If you know a friend is struggling why not ask “are you having thoughts of hurting yourself or killing yourself?” Contrary to popular belief, asking about suicide will not “give them ideas” or inspire someone to kill themselves out of the blue. So really, there is no harm in asking – there is only harm in not asking. Here’s what to do if someone answers “yes.”
1. Stay calm. Just because someone is having thoughts of suicide does not mean they will act on such thoughts.
2. Validate the person. Say, “I am so glad you told me. You are important to me and I do not want you to die. Let’s figure out a plan of what to do together. And let’s keep talking about it so we can keep you safe.”
3. Listen. Listen to any and all thoughts the person wants to share without judgement.
4. Give resources. Direct the person to the suicide hotline, walk-in crisis center, counseling office (like Pennock!), or in an emergency, the nearest emergency room. *See below for specifics
5. Follow up. Ask the person how they are feeling. Offer to be a part of their safety plan if a therapist has written one. Continue to ask if they are feeling suicidal in the future.
- 9-1-1 for emergency
- Platte Valley Medical Center
1600 Prairie Center Parkway
Brighton, CO 80601
- National suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-TALK
- Colorado Crisis Services
2551 W 84th Avenue
Westminster, CO 80031
Text “TALK” to 38255
- Pennock Center for Counseling
211 S 21st Ave
Brighton, CO 80601