Suicide. For many of us, it is an uncomfortable topic to discuss. But ignoring this serious issue will not help improve it.
By now, most of us are aware of the sobering increase in depression, anxiety and suicide rates in the United States. Depression will be the #1 health issue in the world in 2020 according the the World Health Organization. Suicide rates have increased about 30% in the United States in just the last 18 years. In many areas the numbers are much higher. Kansas, for example, has seen a 49% increase. Men are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than women.
We must acknowledge that these are a result of a society and culture we have collectively created over generations. While it is important for us to have frank discussions on how we can adjust and improve in each of these areas, it is also important to understand that each of these areas is treatable.
How To Help Someone Who You Believe May Be Suicidal
It is normal to feel uncomfortable when speaking to someone for whom you believe may be considering suicide. Just remember, the goal is not to take on the person’s problem or to have all of the right answers. The goal is to show honest compassion. If you do not know how to approach someone, you can call a suicide prevention hotline or a treatment center and get advice from them. Please see resources at the end of this article
If you are truly concerned about someone, do not wait. It is better to approach your friend or family member with compassion and caring, than to hope that their pain goes away.
According to the American Counseling Association, here are some key points you can make when discussing with your friend or family member.
- “We all go through tough or scary times.” It can be common for an individual to believe they are the only ones who struggle with life’s challenges. Reminding them that all of us, including you, struggle at different points in life, lets them know they are not alone in their feelings. Acknowledging their concerns are legitimate can reduce the stigma of reaching out for help.
- “It’s OK to ask for help.” By saying this, you normalize the help-seeking process. You remind them that we all need help sometimes.
- “I’m here for you.” It is important to let your friend or family member know you are available to LISTEN without judgment.
IMPORTANT: Avoid the temptation to give advice. Sometimes we all just need to feel heard. If they request advice, a good response can be, “I know I love you, and I want to make sure I help you you get through this. Let’s consider professional counseling or treatment.”
Are You Depressed?
A whole person approach to care has proven to be powerfully effective. It takes commitment, for sure. Treatment can involve weeks of work with trained professionals. But the results can be dramatic and beautiful. Treatment is effective for depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and combinations of the three.
Important Notes on Helping Those With Suicidal Thoughts
We often get asked whether a loved one should talk about suicide with the individual who may be suffering. We believe the answer is yes. Do not wait to see if it subsides. But importantly, start by being a good listener. Let them tell their story. Do not try to fix their situation with immediate feedback. Acknowledge their pain and express your sadness that they are not feeling well.
There are many things that should not be said. It is important not to try to minimize their pain, or make them feel guilty or “selfish”. Do not try to scare them away from suicide. Their pain is real, and they need understanding and love. Most importantly, they may need help to regain their strength, balance, and ultimately their happiness.
If you are concerned about someone, encourage them to get help. Encourage them to talk to a professional; you can even have an initial call yourself with a professional to learn how best to be helpful. Know that treatment can be very effective for those considering suicide.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800.273.8255
- Crisis Text Line – 741-741
- To learn about treatment programs for those suffering from depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, please call The Center • A Place of HOPE Admissions – 888.771.5166
Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, Washington, voted a top ten facility for the treatment of depression in the United States. Dr. Jantz pioneered Whole Person Care in the 1980’s and is a world-renowned expert on eating disorders, depression, anxiety, technology addiction, and abuse. He is a leading voice and innovator in Mental Health utilizing a variety of therapies including nutrition, sleep therapy, spiritual counseling, and advanced DBT techniques. Dr. Jantz is a best-selling author of 37 books and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN.