5 Ways to Help a Loved One Through Suicidal Thoughts

BY GUEST AUTHOR/CONTRIBUTOR, STEVE JOHNSON

When a loved one is showing signs that they may be thinking about suicide, you’re likely fraught with anxiety and fear. Unsure how to help and what steps to take, fearing that you may do the wrong thing and do more harm than good, you may feel helpless. But there are many ways that you can offer support and help someone you care about access the care that they need to regain their health and well-being. In fact, by taking action when you fear a loved one is considering suicide, you might just save their life.

Recognizing Warning Signs of Suicidal Ideation

There are many warning signs that may indicate that someone is having suicidal thoughts. Understanding the possible indicators of severe depression and suicidal thoughts is the first step in being able to help.

If you don’t recognize these signs, you may overlook a serious problem and miss an opportunity to help them get the care they need.  Possible indicators that someone may be considering suicide may include:

    • Withdrawal – Not wanting to participate in social activities that they once enjoyed.
    • Avoiding friends – Intentionally avoiding interactions with close friends and family members, and choosing to spend time alone rather than in the company of others.
    • Sleep problems – Sleep problems may include sleeping too much or sleeping too little. Any sudden and drastic change from a person’s usual sleeping habits may be cause for concern. While it doesn’t always indicate suicidal ideation, it could indicate other underlying health concerns.
    • Hopelessness – Expressing hopelessness about the future or having a negative outlook.
    • Sadness or moodiness – Experiencing severe mood swings, rage, or overwhelming sadness.
    • Change in personal appearance – Seeming as though they don’t care about their appearance or diminished personal hygiene.
    • Giving away personal items – Giving their most treasured possessions to friends or family members. This can indicate an effort to be sure that their valued belongings are passed on to a specific person. These are usually items that they wouldn’t give away.
    • Dangerous behavior – Participating in reckless driving, unsafe sex, alcohol and/or drug abuse. If substance abuse is also a problem, treatment should encompass not only the mental health issue leading to suicidal thoughts but also the addiction.
    • Sudden calmness – Suddenly developing a calm demeanor, seemingly out of nowhere following severe depression or moodiness. This often arises as a result of having made a decision to attempt suicide, which the person may view as the end to their struggles.

 

  • Recent trauma or crisis – Experiencing a major crises such as the death of a spouse or loved one, the loss of a job, or divorce.
  • Threatening suicide – Verbally expressing their intent to attempt suicide. These threats may be written or spoken, but if someone communicates a desire to end their life, it should always be taken seriously.

 

How to Support a Loved One

If someone you care about is showing warning signs that could indicate suicidal ideation or has communicated a desire to end their life, offering support is the best thing you can do. There are a multitude of ways you can show support such as helping them contact mental health services, offering encouragement that the problems they’re facing today are solvable, and offering to be a shoulder to lean on or a friend to listen to whatever struggles are plaguing their mind. Here are a few ways you can offer support to a friend or family member who is considering suicide.

  1. Sign a contract or create a safety plan. Helping them develop steps to follow if they’re in a suicidal crisis is essential. After developing the critical steps to take, have them sign a commitment agreeing to take these steps – such as contacting you or another loved one right away – if they find themselves in a crisis situation. Include in the contract phone numbers for every doctor and therapist involved in their care and friends and family who can help out in an emergency.
  2. Seek professional help. There are crisis lines you can call where trained crisis counselors can offer advice and refer you to treatment centers other resources for help. Encourage them to see a psychiatrist or therapist; you can help by setting up and even taking the individual to their appointment(s). 911 should be called immediately if there is imminent danger.
  3. Remove all potential means of suicide. Knives, razors, firearms, pills, and medication should be removed or secured in a location that’s difficult to access.
  4. Be proactive. Because those thinking about suicide may not think they can be helped, it’s a good idea to be a bit more proactive at offering support (without being pushy). Let them know that you plan to drop by or invite them to go out, even if you don’t believe they’ll want to do so.
  5. Show your support by listening and just being there. Sometimes they just need to talk. However, loved ones should remember to not be offended if they don’t want to talk, and you shouldn’t try to force them to open up about something they’re not ready to discuss. They might even just want to sit quietly with you. Just knowing someone is there for them can be incredibly comforting.

How to Help During and After Therapy

Continued support is necessary for anyone considering suicide before, during, and after treatment. You should stay in close contact with them and drop by to visit periodically. Take some time to help them find a therapist or counselor whom they trust, if they don’t have one already.

Slowly, you can encourage positive life changes such as getting enough sleep, eating healthy, getting fresh air, and trying to get some exercise. Be mindful that warning signs may reappear, so don’t let your guard down thinking that all is well simply because they’ve overcome a depressive episode in the past. For any questions from loved ones or suicidal individuals, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) should be called.

3 Tips on Preventing Unintentional Suicide in Addicts

3 Tips on Preventing
Unintentional Suicide in Addicts

BY GUEST AUTHOR/CONTRIBUTOR, STEVE JOHNSON
Suicide is often thought of as an intentional act, potentially planned and done for a specific reason. However, when people are reckless in their actions and choices, unintentional suicide can occur. People who become addicted to any substance are at a much higher risk for suicide.
If a person ceases to care about their wellbeing and dies as a result, it is still a form of suicide caused by depression, hopelessness, or any other number of mental struggles. Preventing this type of unplanned suicide can be a little more difficult than helping someone who is actively contemplating suicide. Here are a few suggestions on preventing a tragedy in someone with an addiction.
Try to Prevent Driving Under the Influence

A very common unintentional suicide occurs while driving under the influence of a substance. Reckless behavior such as drunk driving or driving while high can be an indicator that the person no longer cares about their life.
If possible, prevent the person from getting behind the wheel if they are in a noticeably altered state. Though this may be
difficult and can result in anger from the person, it is preferable that your loved one stays alive and upset with you as opposed to appeased and gone. This behavior should also be noted if you feel it is a symptom of depression or suicidal thoughts.
Locate Professional Help
People who are at risk for unintentional suicide are typically not at the stage where they want or feel they need help. This can make getting them into a therap
y class or AA a trying task. If your loved one is resistant to the idea of therapy, seek advice from a professional. You may speak with a counselor, a group leader for a support group, or even contact a 24-hour hotline.
Of course, if your loved one is receptive to the idea of getting help for their addiction, it is best to find a counselor to meet with them regularly in order to resolve both the addiction and life-endangering actions.
Build a Support Network
Find and gather people who are willing and able to support your loved one. The more people who are privy to your loved one’s addiction and reckless behavior, the less likely they are to find themselves in a dangerous situation as a result of their substance abuse. A network of people can halt any driving under the influence, control access to the substance, and help convince the person to seek help.
Something like this should not be a burden on a single person. Multiple people should be available as support and guidance. The stress of monitoring an addict’s behavior and recovery is too much for any one person. Trying to take the situation on by yourself will only work to deteriorate your own mental and physical health.
Preventing suicide in any case is frightening and stressful. Feeling as though your loved one’s well-being depends on your vigilance is enough to cause anyone anxiety. Instead, recruit a support network to ensure the person’s safety and oversee their eventual recovery. The true goal is to get them to a place where they will accept professional help and begin to recover.
NOTE FROM LiFE OF HOPE: H.O.P.E. PEER SUPPORT GROUPS
Similar to other peer-to-peer support groups, persons experiencing similar thoughts, behaviors, beliefs, and struggles relating to suicidal ideation, within themselves or a loved one, benefit from the autonomous environment of sharing and healing.
Peer Support Groups are facilitated by Certified Peer Specialists and QPR(Question. Persuade. Refer.)volunteers. These mentor style facilitators have successfully supported suicidal individuals and their families (and/or) been trained in suicide intervention. Groups are designed to provide HOPE and healing to those challenged by the topic of suicide ideation or attempt. H.O.P.E. Peer Support Groups are available for FREE to the suicidal individual as well as their loved ones.
ACTIVE SUICIDE IDEATION Every 1st and 3rd Thursday (6:00-7:00pm) at the LiFE OF HOPE office.
FRIENDS & FAMILY Every 2nd and 4th Wednesday (6:00-7:00pm) at the LiFE OF HOPE office. 
 
NOTE: Peer Support Groups are not intended to take the place of psychiatric health care. Certified Peer Specialists are not counselors, social workers, or psychologists. If you need assistance locating a mental health professional, contact the LiFE OF HOPE office for a list of referrals within Washington County.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Johnson co-created PublicHealthLibrary.org as part of a school project. He and a fellow pre-med student enjoyed working on the site so much that they decided to keep it going. Their goal is to make PublicHealthLibrary.org one of the go-to sources for health and medical information on the web.
Image via Pixabay by geralt

BEHIND THE MASK Brunch & Fashion Show Success, Video, and Photo Gallery

The BEHIND THE MASK Brunch & Fashion Show proved to be one of our most successful AWARENESS-Building FUNdraisers to date. With more than 140 guests in attendance and over 80 volunteers coming together in the spirit of suicide prevention, LiFE OF HOPE continues to prove that with HOPE and healing, all things are possible. More than $17,000 was raised to continue our Three Pillars of Influence (AWARENESS, EDUCATION, and SUPPORT) with dozens of photographs capturing the unique, fashionable, and inspirational activities that filled the February 6th event.

To learn more about how you can be a LiFE-Saver, register today to become QPR (question. persuade. refer.) Certified, where you will learn the known risk factors, associated behaviors, and three steps to providing a successful suicide intervention.

EVENT VIDEO RECAP – If you missed the fun or want to relive all of the excitement, CLICK HERE to enjoy the video, donated by Photography By John. Be sure to view the Executive Director Welcome Message 6 minutes into the video where the BEHIND THE MASK theme was explained, risk factors and behaviors associated with suicide ideation and attempt were outlined, and an affirming message that we can all be a LiFE-Saver encourages everyone to become Q.P.R. Certified.

PHOTO BOOTH FUN – To view all photo booth photographs or order copies, visit http://www.PhotographyByJohn.net/proofs/behind-the-mask/.

SILENT AUCTION, PROGRAM, LIVE AUCTION, FASHION SHOW, and BEHIND THE SCENES – Many thanks to www.BargerPhoto.com. To view a photograph below in larger format, click on it once to see it in the upper left corner of your screen. Then click it again for a much larger view. From there, you can save the image to your desktop for printing. Enjoy!

Nalani Founder and President Changes Course to Save Lives

Deeatra Kajfosz LiFE OF HOPE  Executive Director (former owner of Nalani Services)
Deeatra Kajfosz
LiFE OF HOPE
Executive Director
(former owner of Nalani Services)

This past January marked two significant anniversaries for me; the anniversary of launching Nalani Services (2006) and the anniversary of being given a second chance at LiFE (2001). I’ve had a few months to consider this message and how I would share my story. I hope I will do it justice.

As a dedicated business owner with a portfolio of successful marketing campaigns, sales strategies, and leadership relationships, I am writing this to share that I have held a closely guarded secret. One that I believed for nearly 14 years would collapse my career, should it ever be known. Then, in June of this past year, I lost a friend to suicide, leaving me with many questions and too few answers. You see, my friend attempted to end his life and died while I, in my own attempt so many years ago, had lived. It just didn’t seem fair or possible that he was gone. And, it didn’t seem right that during our time of knowing one another in business and as friends, that I had lied to him and was now faced with the fact that I couldn’t undo the lie. Continue reading “Nalani Founder and President Changes Course to Save Lives”

SUICIDE PREVENTION

14-Year Suicide Attempt Survivor Sets Out to Bring Hope and Healing to Others

In January of 2001, four days after attempting to end her life, a twenty-seven year old mother of two wrote the following. “When you start the New Year the way I have, there seems to be nowhere to go but up. Never would I have imagined finding myself at this juncture. I’m without answer to one question; at what point did I begin to lose touch with myself in such a way that I could consider death a suitable solution?” These are the words taken from the personal journal of West Bend resident, Deeatra Kajfosz. As a statistic, she was one of 46 suicide attempts who were hospitalized thatyear. In 2012, eleven years after her attempt, 90 members of our community were admitted as a result of a failed attempt to end their life. The sad truth is, current statistics indicate that the numbers continue to rise. Continue reading “SUICIDE PREVENTION”