How to Help Someone with Suicidal Thoughts? Tips from Psychotherapists

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death; in the United States alone, approximately 125 American die from suicide every day. It is crucial to keep an eye out for your loved ones and check in regularly to see how they are doing. This article will discuss how to help someone with suicidal thoughts and get them the help they need.

How Do You Help Someone Who Has Suicidal Thoughts

Why do some people have suicidal thoughts?

If someone is having suicidal thoughts, they may be experiencing a challenging time in their life or dealing with past trauma. Suicidal thoughts can happen at any age and for various reasons. Here are a few of the reasons that people may experience these thoughts:

  • Issues with Mental Health
  • Experiencing bullying, abuse, or racism
  • Chronic Pain
  • The death of a loved one
  • Money Problems
  • Substance or alcohol abuse

What does it mean to have suicidal thoughts?

Suicide describes the act of intentionally ending your own life. Suicidal thoughts stem from someone who believes they are facing challenges they cannot defeat. Therefore, as a means of coping, they might consider taking their own life to find peace.

What are the signs that someone might be having suicidal thoughts?

The first step to dealing with someone with suicidal thoughts is to identify any signs that they may be experiencing deep struggles in life. It can be easy to miss these signs, so it is vital to watch out for any changes in the behavior of a potentially suicidal individual.

Behaviors and signs that someone is at immediate risk of suicide:

  • Verbally discussing suicide and wanting to end their own life.
  • Seeking out information or items that can be used to end their life.
  • Discussing not having a reason to live or a feeling of hopelessness.

Signs that an individual is at serious risk of suicide:

  • Claiming they are a burden to others or their family.
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Substance abuse
  • Sleeping excessively or not at all
  • Isolating themselves

If you recognize these signs in a friend or loved one, it is crucial to seek out help and notify a mental health professional.

Helping Someone with Suicidal Thoughts

The importance of timely helping someone with suicidal thoughts

Helping someone with depression and suicidal thoughts should be done promptly and with the support of a professional. Do not ignore any symptoms of a friend or family that might be experiencing depression or having severe anxiety.

Instead, listening to the person and encouraging them to talk about their situation with their doctor or a mental health center should be the first step to helping someone with suicidal thoughts.

What to do when someone is having suicidal thoughts?

If you want to know how to help someone with suicidal thoughts, then it can be broken down into five critical steps.

Step #1: Be Communicative:

Let them know you are asking about suicide in a non-judgmental and caring way. When dealing with someone with suicidal thoughts, it is important to be a good listener and acknowledge their feelings in a supportive way.

Step #2: Be Present

If someone is having suicidal thoughts, they need a support system and someone that can be there for them. This could be through being with them physically, speaking with them on the phone, or having regular video calls. If you cannot perform this role, then help them find someone that can.

Step #3: Take measures to keep them safe

Ask them if they have already tried to commit suicide or how they have thought about committing suicide.  Use this information to reduce the individual’s access to the items or substances they might have planned to use.

Step #4: Connect them with a professional

Work with the individual to create a plan and provide them with other resources they can access to get the help that they need. This could be through a crisis line, website, or medical center.

Step #5: Follow up

Please keep in contact with the individual and reach out to them even after a few days or weeks to check in and see how they are doing.

Ways to help someone with suicidal thoughts

To summarize, here are the best ways to help someone who has suicidal thoughts:

  • Listen to them in a supportive way.
  • Be present and spend time with them.
  • Remove objects or items that might be a threat to their safety.
  • Please provide them with resources to learn more (crisis line, websites, centers).
  • Connect them with a mental health professional.
Help for Suicidal Thoughts

In contrast, here are some things you should not do if someone is having suicidal thoughts.

  • Do not be judgmental or unsupportive
  • Act like it is not important
  • Do not say “I know how you feel,” because everyone’s situation is different.
  • Please do not keep it a secret.

Encourage someone to talk to a therapist about suicidal thoughts

The best way of helping someone with suicidal thoughts is to encourage them to seek out a therapist and get professional help. There are plenty of free resources and 24-hour crisis lines that can help them access the support they need.

Why is it important to seek professional help if someone is having suicidal thoughts?

Mental health professionals and doctors are equipped with the best skills to support someone that is suffering from depression and having suicidal thoughts. In addition, they have all the resources and knowledge to create a proper treatment plan.

In many cases, an individual suffering from these afflictions will be prescribed medications to help, which only a licensed professional can administer. Therefore, it is crucial to seek professional help if you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts.

How can a therapist help?

Therapists are expert listeners and highly trained in understanding mental illness. They will be able to help the individual to manage their emotions and create a strong treatment plan. With that in mind, it is essential to find a skilled therapist who is capable of dealing with suicidal thoughts but also makes the individual feel comfortable.