Suicide Prevention: How to Help a Suicidal Person - African Mommy

Suicide Prevention: How to Help a Suicidal Person


It’s hard to watch your loved one or anyone at all spiral downwards into the dark side of being suicidal and ready to end it all. Sadly, suicide has become more and more rampant all over the world. People are losing more teenage children, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, co-workers and others to suicide every day. More than 700 000 people die due to suicide every year and for every suicide, there are many more cases of attempted suicide. Scary. This is why more timely, accessible and effective interventions are needed for the prevention of suicide in our communities.

The responsibility to help suicidal people also falls on friends and family around them. When someone confides in you about being suicidal or if you notice they might be suicidal, never ignore. Your swift response might just be what will save them from taking their own lives. So trust your instincts and act on them quickly.

One big challenge with helping a person who is suicidal is not knowing what to say or do. But you can start by learning warning signs, what questions to ask, giving a listening ear and how to get professional help.
Some of the risk factors can include:

Struggle with mental health

Traumatic experiences or abuse

Getting bullied

Drug addiction or alcohol use

Feeling disconnected or dissociated

Loss of interest in things that once made them feel good and happy

Death of a loved one

Being part of a marginalized group of people like the LGBTQ community or refugees

Toxic relationships or a bad breakup

Humiliating experiences or failure

All of these signs can occur in different stages of life; adolescence, becoming a mother/father, old age, etc. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the 15-19 age group. Some signs to look out for in a person you feel might be suicidal include:

Talking about wanting to end it all

Reckless behaviour

Avoiding social activities, friends, family, anyone at all

Self harm

Making comments about being fed up or tired

Putting their affairs in order or giving things away

Researching suicide methods

What to do

When you suspect a person might be suicidal, ask them directly. The only way to be 100% sure they’re suicidal is by asking them and for them to confirm it. You can start by telling them what you have noticed from their behaviour or ask how they’re feeling about a traumatic experience or the loss of a loved one. Give them your utmost attention and try not to interrupt when they speak. Of course, this is not the time to talk about your own woes. Let them know that it’s all about them at that moment. While trying to assure them that you care, you can remind them of the different reasons they have to keep living. It could be family, friends, their pets, their dreams and goals. Reminding them of these reasons might give them a little bit of hope.

Another thing to do is to encourage them to get professional help. They could see a therapist, contact a support service or go to the hospital. You can make the phone call with them or go with them to the hospital. Be sure to check up on them while they receive treatment too.

If you feel someone is in danger of hurting themselves:

Call the emergency suicide hotline in your area

Don’t leave them alone

Stay calm and positive till help comes

If you can do it safely, keep any dangerous weapons away from them. The most common methods of suicide in the world are pesticide use, hanging and suicide with firearms.

Remember to stay safe too

What no to do

Never ignore or dismiss the warning signs

Never try to handle it alone

Never agree to keep a suicide plan a secret

DISCLAIMER: This article was not written by a mental health or suicide expert. If you need to seek professional help, do check out any of these helplines.

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