For many, talking about suicide can be scary, challenging, or uncomfortable. People worry that by talking about suicide with someone they are concerned about, they may be suggesting suicide to them for the first time. In most cases, this is not true. If you are concerned about a loved one’s behavior, ask them gently about what’s going on.
The National Alliance on Mental Health offers some great tips on talking and listening to someone experiencing suicidal thoughts. It’s important to show concern through active listening. Ensure the person you are talking with can tell you are paying attention to them and care about what they say. Provide acceptance and a nonjudgemental place for them to share their feelings. It’s also helpful to ask questions such as “How are you getting by?” and even be direct in asking, “Have you thought about killing yourself?” If the answer to that is yes, you’ll want to find out if they have a plan they will act on. Then, calling a mental health professional or 911 may be necessary. Encouraging your loved one to seek support from a therapist if they don’t already have one can also be helpful.
As human beings, we want to feel connected. Having suicidal thoughts can be an isolating and lonely experience. Offering someone you care about the space to share these thoughts can be a connective and healing experience. Reach out to those who seem to be struggling and ask the difficult questions. Your connection, care, and concern can be life-saving.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with thoughts of suicide, or if you want help learning how to talk about it, reach out to one of our therapists at Heartland Therapy Connection so we can help. You can call or text us at 816-287-0252. Or email us through our website.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) or text NAMI to 741-741.