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Content Warning: This article discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal ideation, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

Living with suicidal ideation is terrifying. I have experienced suicidal ideation numerous times over the years, and frequently have to battle these thoughts on a daily basis. But no matter how terrifying it is for me, I can only imagine how terrifying it is for my loved ones who so desperately want to help, but don’t know how to. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can help protect your loved one who may be experiencing suicidal ideation. Here are four things that my loved ones have done for me when I have experienced suicidal ideation, and how they have helped to bring me closer, instead of making me pull away.

It is also important to understand some of the warning signs of suicidal ideation, and in my experience they have been as follows: irritability, sleeping throughout the day, insomnia at night, being unable to eat or drink, inability to take care of myself, inability to go to work or school, and being withdrawn from everyone. Everyone’s symptoms are different, but these are some warning signs you can look out for. And here’s what you can do to help:

  1. Asking “What can I do to help or make you feel better?”

This first tip is so important. While it may seem like a small thing, asking how you can help your loved one shows that you care about how they are feeling and while you may not understand, you are willing to try and understand what you can do to help. This opens a door, and so many times when I have been suicidal I have felt like I am in a bubble, but simply asking how a loved one can help makes me open up to them and feel like there is a way out of my head.

  1. Put away any sharp items or items that could be considered dangerous

This is especially important. When I am depressed, I frequently experience thoughts about harming myself, and if I have items around me that could be used in self-harm, I am more likely to use them. However, if these items are put away or are out of reach, I will seldom go out of my way to find objects that could be used to self-harm. Ensuring that your loved one is safe is extremely important, and I highly advise locking away items such as knives, razors, guns, lighters, toothpicks, and anything sharp that is within your loved one’s reach.

Like dangerous or sharp objects, medications are another safety issue when I am experiencing suicidal ideation. Even over the counter medications, such as Advil or Tylenol, can be a safety hazard, so it is important that you put these somewhere where your loved one will not be able to access them. If your loved one asks where any specific medication is, tell them that you are concerned about their safety and you would be happy to access the medication for them.

  1. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers you the ability to chat with someone 24 hours a day either online or on the phone. They will help you find resources for your loved one and guide you on the best way to handle your loved one’s suspected suicidal ideation. My loved ones have often felt lost when I have experienced suicidal ideation, and calling the Lifeline helped them to find the resources they needed to be able to help me.

  1. Seek professional help

If your loved one has made any indication that they have a plan for suicide, tries to harm themselves, or if they are unable to go on with daily activities due to depression, then it is vital to seek professional help. My loved ones have taken me to the emergency room when they have been deeply concerned about my wellbeing, and it is through the emergency room that I have received the mental health treatment that I needed to ensure my safety. Your loved one might be willful when you let them know that you are concerned about their safety and would like to take them to the nearest mental health crisis center or emergency room, would reiterate your love for them and ensure them that you only want the best care for them and that you want them to feel better. I have been willful in the past when my loved ones have taken me to receive professional help but looking back, I am more than grateful that they cared enough to get me the help that I needed.

Try to remember that when your loved one is in suicidal ideation, they may say or do things that hurt you; however, try to understand that this is their illness speaking and not them. Their safety is important above all else, and ensuring they receive that safety may take some actions that are hard for you to complete.

All of the above tips are steps that my loved ones have done to help me, and I am more than grateful for the tough choices that they have made. While these are things that helped me, everyone is different. If you’re interested in helping someone else, check out the Lifeline’s BeThe1To Action Steps for supporting a loved one experiencing suicidal ideation. Your loved one will thank you one day, and your relationship will improve once your loved one realizes that you only did what you did because you love them and want the best for them. I wish you well, and stay strong!

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, know you are not alone. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7/365 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

 


Comments

4
  • Clubhouse

    Clubhouse. This new platform lets people chat in real time, share stories, collaborate, and bounce ideas off of each other using their voice without the need for a lot of other equipment.

    Posted on

  • Marc

    Marc Marc

    Reply Author

    What if they have no loved ones? Never had? What then? They had users and abusers. Molesters. How do you convince them to go on? Therapy hasn’t helped. How do you give them a reason?

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  • SaMantha

    You should probably tell them of all the things they have yet to do with their life, and that even though there seems to be nothing right now to live for there could be in the future. It seems a feeble thing to hope for, but that should at least help a little

    Posted on

  • TLouise

    TLouise TLouise

    Reply Author

    I’m not sure that the future things matter much. I know when I have suicidal ideation the future doesn’t change things. Thinking about my Mom (bless her soul as of now) and children (who are now grown) were all that ever stopped me. At the time I had a promising future. Which over the past 25 yrs has turned into crap. I watched what toll it took on my cousins and Uncle.. the whole family when my Aunt took her life, another Aunt and Uncle when a cousin took hers. That was even harder to swallow, she was only 16. My best friend and neighbor, her children when her husband took his, another neighbor and his son when his wife took hers. A couple summers ago I never cried so hard over suicide, a lovely soul took her own, she was in her 70’s and lived alone across the way. She was a wildlife rehabilitator and couldn’t do it alone anymore. 10 yrs ago a lifelong friend we all grew up with took his own life after a long talk about the future, blessings in disguise, little bumps in the Rd, on and on.. I woke up to hear his Dad found him. I felt guilty knowing my talks were no longer enough. His best friend still refers to me as his Angel because I “talked him down” so many x’s. In all reality Istill failed. Nonetheless… not even 3 weeks apart a friend we grew up with list his wife day after Christmas and the other was the latter. So… it was easier for a long time to “talk myself down” as well. These days it gets harder. My future again is more promising than the more recent past, yet still the voices of those that hurt you gnaw inside your skull and dont stop. I suppose we’re all different but I would always try to point out the children.. if they don’t have their own maybe a niece or nephew. A friend, if they still have parents. Suicide wreaks havoc on ALL those who were close to and loved the one who passed. The guilt eats you up. Let them know how devastated YOU would be and what it would do to YOUR future, the rest of it if something happened and you could have possibly done something. I wish I had told my friend that. Never crossed my mind. He was going on about his girl not loving him . I was told I just prolonged the inevitable, hes been depressed for years. Maybe so… maybe he just needed to “know ” his friend’s loved and accepted him as much if not more than he was trying to get this woman to

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