Many factors push a person to end their life but most individuals who consider suicide do not want to die. They just do not know how to cope with the stress and pain they are going through.
If you are carrying a heavy burden on your shoulders but don’t know how to cope, you can get professional help by calling the Careline hotline at 877-266-4357 (HELP) or Sunshine’s Behavioral Health department at (907) 733-9263. It is perfectly okay to talk with a professional to help you find solutions and lift the weight off your shoulders.
Everyone can play a role in suicide prevention. When someone you know is suicidal, reaching out to them could make a difference. You can help by taking these steps:
If you are worried that someone you know may be feeling suicidal, rather than wondering if your concerns are true, it is OK to reach out and simply ask, are they thinking about suicide. Being direct, without judgment, may open the door for a deeper conversation about how they are feeling. Studies have shown that having this conversation actually reduces suicidal ideation and does not increase suicidal thoughts. You can find resources for having the suicide conversation with an at-risk person in this article from Psychology Today, What to Know When Asking About Suicidal Thoughts.
Remove Access to Dangerous Items
Reducing or removing access to lethal items or a ‘chosen method’ of suicide is an important step in prevention. This involves asking the person if they have a plan or method they have considered using and asking if they have already tried something to harm themselves. Knowing these details can help you learn how severe the risk is and remove their predetermined path of choice. Common methods involve medications or firearms. Learn more about Reducing Access to Lethal Means from save.org.
Get Them Connected
You can connect with someone in a variety of ways. Being physically present is an obvious method but may not always be an option for you. Take care and do not over commit or tell them that you will be available when you are not able to. Connecting by phone or in any other way that shows support for that person is helpful. If you are not able to be present and supportive, talk with them about others that may be and help them make contact with friends, neighbors, co-workers, family members, community organizations like schools or churches and other groups with similar interests (hobbies, volunteer organizations, etc.). Learn more about the impact of connectedness from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.
Help Them Find Resources
Hook them up with resources that are available during a crisis, 24/7 to establish a safety net. Ask if they are they seeing a mental health professional and connect them with resources and support in their community. Sunshine Community Health Center has professionals that can help with this step and there are many other resources listed at the end of this article.
After you have asked if they are considering suicide, removed access to dangerous or lethal items, connected them to a support network and resources it is important to follow up. You can check-in and continue to show your support with a phone call, sending a text message, send them a letter or card, stop by their home for a visit, or connect through email. Regular follow up can help them feel less isolated and potentially reduce their risk of suicide.
Suicide Prevention Resources
- Stop Suicide Alaska
- Alaska Careline
- Alaska DHSS Statewide Suicide Prevention Council
- National Institute for Mental Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center
- American Foundation or Suicide Prevention