Question #1: Do you have a plan?
At any mention of suicidal or self-harm thoughts, even something as harmless as “I’ve thought about suicide before” the immediate response should be “do you have a plan?” Contemplations about life and death are common existential human ponderings. However, taking transforming the idea of death into plans of action can indicate a greater underlying problem. Asking about a plan serves two purposes. First, it helps to gain a better understanding of how detailed a loved one’s thoughts are about suicide. Second, gaining those details are helpful in the event that a crisis intervention needs to be staged. For example, if a loved one mentions shooting themselves, follow with “Do you own a gun?” If they mention taking pills, ask them about what kind of medication they have in the house and prescriptions they are currently on.
Question #2: What would make you change your mind?
Suicidal ideation is not always an intent to commit suicide. It is, however, the mark of a troubling presence of suicidal thoughts. A person can see a train rush by and think a thousand different things. Someone with a tendency toward suicidal ideation will likely always think about being hit by that train. This means that death is an ongoing option in the back of their mind. However, there must be something hopeful about their life that inspires them to continue living. Asking about their perspective on circumstance is critical to gauging their needs for treatment. If circumstances were to change in areas of finance, romance, and perhaps location, they might see hope in continuing to live. They may even agree to therapy and treatment. Negative responses to hopeful prospects means they cannot see the point in living even if things changed. Such a case will require higher levels of care and observation.
Question #3: Do you want to get help now?
Driving to the hospital, the emergency room, the local psychiatric hospital, or a nearby program is an option to offer a loved one in need. If they are aware of their shifting mental state and agree to receive help, time is of the absolute essence. Before they can change their mind, be on the way to professional help. Should the situation arise where they leave your sight, call 911 or a crisis unit with their address, phone number, and as much information as you have gained. If you know they are home, you can request a wellness check. Officers will decide if there is an imminent threat and can voluntarily admit a loved one to 72 hour psychiatric lock-down.
Please call the Suicide Hotline if you are concerned you or a loved one might take their own life. There is hope. Your life is worth living.
For additional care in the treatment of mental health and addiction disorders, call Aurora Recovery Center located in beautiful Manitoba. We offer a serene location and a healing program for recovery. 1844-515-STOP.