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Concerned About Someone At Risk

Helping someone through a suicidal crisis isn’t easy. People are often uncomfortable talking about suicide so they may avoid the topic altogether. However, research has shown that the best way to prevent suicide is by talking about it openly, directly, and respectfully.

If you notice personal changes or warning signs of suicide in a friend or family member, then there are things you can do to help them out.

Reach Out, Ask Directly.

If they are having suicidal thoughts, a respectful, direct question will be a big relief. Something like…” Lately, I’ve noticed you’ve been (…really down, avoiding everyone, drinking a lot more, talking about death…whatever it is) and I’m really concerned about you. Sometimes people do that when they’re thinking about suicide. So, I’m wondering… have you been thinking about suicide?” Don’t worry- you won’t put the idea in their head- it will open the door to talking about it and to getting the help they need. Ask in a private place and make sure they know you are asking because you care about them. Then they should feel safe to open up.

Be a Supportive Listener.

Have an open mind and accept their feelings, even if they are seeing things differently than you. They need a chance to talk about their reasons for considering suicide, and an opportunity to explore their reasons for living.

Get Them Help.

Encourage them to talk to a health professional such as a doctor, nurse or mental health counsellor. The Island Helpline (1-800-218-2885) is available 24/7, and there are many helpful resources on PEI listed in the toolbox.

If threat to life is Immediate, call 911

Get Help for You, too.

It’s important to help someone to the best of your ability. At the same time, it’s important to know your limits – get others involved who can help. Take care of yourself and remember – suicide is a personal decision. When someone makes a suicide attempt or dies by suicide, no one is to blame. They’re responsible for the decision that was made. You cannot hold yourself responsible for someone else’s decision to end their life.

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