In 2021 over 12.3 million Americans seriously considered suicide, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But for many people, talking about suicide is still taboo — if not outright inappropriate in most settings outside a mental health professional’s office.
Suicide does not care if it is “taboo” to talk about — it takes and takes, indiscriminately, quietly, violently, leaving broken hearts and destroyed lives in its wake. Talking about suicide with your loved ones or listening to someone speak candidly about their own experiences with mortality is more important than ever before.
At Innerspace Counseling, we believe that human life is more important than taboo, and we want you to know that if you or a loved one are struggling with thoughts about harming yourself or others, we are standing by to help with a listening ear, a caring heart, and to share our expertise and resources with you.
SPEAK TO EXPERTS
Always, always default to expert opinion and best-practice advice when you’re learning about suicide prevention. An expert such as a licensed mental health practitioner from Innerspace Counseling can help you create safety plans for you or another person in your life. Not only will these plans help educate you on suicide prevention, but they will give you next steps for handling a crisis, rather than leaving you to navigate a potentially tragic scenario on your own.
BE WILLING TO LISTEN
Discussing suicide is a difficult topic, and it can be even harder to hear about. A key component in suicide prevention is actively engaging and listening to people when they do express these thoughts or ideas. If they don’t have a concrete plan or means to carry out their ideation, they might just want to talk about the idea or concept with someone; a willingness to discuss suicide doesn’t always translate to intent. Providing a non-judgmental, empathetic outlet for people struggling with suicidal ideation can be a way to explore their own personal feelings and emotions and can prompt larger conversations about treatment.
KNOW THE SIGNS AND RISK FACTORS
Suicidal ideation doesn’t always present itself as depression, and there isn’t always a single cause that can lead to a tragic outcome. But knowing the signs and risk factors behind suicide can be crucial for suicide prevention. The American Foundation for the Prevention of Suicide lists a number of factors that can contribute to the development of suicidal ideation:
Health factors such as chronic mental or physical health conditions.
Environmental factors such as home environment, access to means of suicide (i.e. access to firearms), prolonged stress, stressful life events, or exposure to another’s suicide.
Historical factors such as previous suicide attempts, childhood abuse/neglect, or a family history of suicide.
When you know the risk factors and behaviors associated with suicidality it’s easier to have those difficult conversations with your family or loved ones. You can become the difference-maker in your loved one’s life, and see what others aren’t paying attention to, or aren’t willing to see.
KEEP THEM SAFE
While this goes without saying, when you remove a person’s means to suicide, you can help keep them safe. This is known to experts as Lethal Means Counseling. LMC is a part of addressing a person’s environmental risk factors for suicide. Addressing physical safety first and foremost is also important for determining whether or not you need to call emergency services. If a person expresses intent to harm themselves or others, and you believe this to be a credible, concrete threat, here is what The Mayo Clinic recommends:
Call emergency services right away, or take the person to the nearest emergency room.
Carry out your safety plan with the person, if you have one.
Try to find out if this person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Do not, under any circumstances, leave this person alone.
The pain of suicide is a heavy burden to bear. Whether you’re struggling, or you know someone who is, your health and happiness should always come first. Don’t walk such a difficult path alone; reach out to us today, and begin healing.
Innerspace Counseling will proudly be supporting Brady’s Voice, a local non-profit started by the parents of Brady who completed suicide last year. This family’s determination to prevent this from happening to another family is inspiring. They have organized a walk to spread the message of suicide prevention to their community. Please join the walk on Sunday, September 10th at 10 AM and come by Innerspace Counseling’s table for information on our child, teen, and adult intensive mental health programs.