If Someone talks of suicide.....

  1. Suicide Help

    One of our fellow members was put in a tough situation, and was concerned that a friend might harm herself. If you ever encounter such a situation, here is a site that offers suggestions, and other links that can help:



    1. "Be yourself. "The right words" are unimportant. If you are concerned, your voice and manner will show it.
    2. Listen. Let the person unload despair, ventilate anger. If given an opportunity to do this, he or she will feel better by the end of the call. No matter how negative the call seems, the fact that it exists is a positive sign, a cry for help.
    3. Be sympathetic, non-judgmental, patient, calm, accepting. The caller has done the right thing by getting in touch with another person.
    4. If the caller is saying "I'm so depressed, I can't go on," ask The Question: "Are you having thoughts of suicide?" You are not putting ideas in his head, you are doing a good thing for him. You are showing him that you are concerned, that you take him seriously, that it is OK for him to share his pain with you.
    5. If the answer is yes, you can begin asking a series of further questions: Have you thought about how you would do it (PLAN); Have you got what you need (MEANS); Have you thought about when you would do it (TIME SET). 95% of all suicidal callers will answer no at some point in this series or indicate that the time is of the essence. set for some date in the future. This will be a relief for both of you.
    6. Simply talking about their problems for a length of time will give suicidal people relief from loneliness and pent up feelings, awareness that another person cares, and a feeling of being understood. They also get tired -- their body chemistry changes. These things take the edge off their agitated state and help them get through a bad night.
    7. Avoid arguments, problem solving, advice giving, quick referrals, belittling and making the caller feel that has to justify his suicidal feelings. It is not how bad the problem is, but how badly it's hurting the person who has it.
    8. If the person is ingesting drugs, get the details (what, how much, alcohol, other medications, last meal, general health) and call Poison Control at _______________. A shift partner can call while you continue to talk to the person, or you can get the caller's permission and do it yourself on another phone while the caller listens to your side of the conversation. If Poison Control recommends immediate medical assistance, ask if the caller has a nearby relative, friend, or neighbor who can assist with transportation or the ambulance. In a few cases the person will initially refuse needed medical assistance. Remember that the call is still a cry for help and stay with him in a sympathetic and non-judgmental way. Ask for his address and phone number in case he changes his mind. (Call the number to make sure it's busy.) If your organization does not trace calls, be sure to tell him that.
    9. Do not go it alone. Get help during the call and debrief afterwards.
    10. Your caller may be concerned about someone else who is suicidal. Just listen, reassure him that he is doing the right thing by taking the situation seriously, and sympathize with his stressful situation. With some support, many third parties will work out reasonable courses of action on their own. In the rare case where the third party is really a first party, just listening will enable you to move toward his problems. You can ask, "Have you ever been in a situation where you had thoughts of suicide?"
    The most important pain-coping resource is the help of a trained mental health professional. A person who feels suicidal should get help, and get it sooner rather than later."

    Here is part of an open letter on that site. It is addressed to someone considering suicide:

    ........"Start by considering this statement
    "Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds
    resources for coping with pain."

    That's all it's about. You are not a bad person, or crazy, or weak, or flawed, because you feel suicidal. It doesn't even mean that you really want to die - it only means that you have more pain than you can cope with right now. If I start piling weights on your shoulders, you will eventually collapse if I add enough weights... no matter how much you want to remain standing. Willpower has nothing to do with it. Of course you would cheer yourself up, if you could.....
    You can survive suicidal feelings if you do either of two things: (1) find a way to reduce your pain, or (2) find a way to increase your coping resources. Both are possible.
    Now I want to tell you five things to think about.
    You need to hear that people do get through this -- even people who feel as badly as you are feeling now. Statistically, there is a very good chance that you are going to live. I hope that this information gives you some sense of hope.
    Give yourself some distance. Say to yourself, "I will wait 24 hours before I do anything." Or a week. Remember that feelings and actions are two different things - just because you feel like killing yourself, doesn't mean that you have to actually do it right this minute. Put some distance between your suicidal feelings and suicidal action. Even if it's just 24 hours. You have already done it for 5 minutes, just by reading this page. You can do it for another 5 minutes by continuing to read this page. Keep going, and realize that while you still feel suicidal, you are not, at this moment, acting on it. That is very encouraging to me, and I hope it is to you.
    People often turn to suicide because they are seeking relief from pain. Remember that relief is a feeling. And you have to be alive to feel it. You will not feel the relief you so desperately seek, if you are dead.
    Some people will react badly to your suicidal feelings, either because they are frightened, or angry; they may actually increase your pain instead of helping you, despite their intentions, by saying or doing thoughtless things. You have to understand that their bad reactions are about their fears, not about you.

    But there are people out there who can be with you in this horrible time, and will not judge you, or argue with you, or send you to a hospital, or try to talk you out of how badly you feel.
    They will simply care for you. Find one of them. Now. Use your 24 hours, or your week, and tell someone what's going on with you. It is okay to ask for help. Try:
    - Send an anonymous e-mail to The Samaritans
    - Call 1-800-SUICIDE in the U.S.
    - Teenagers, call Covenant House NineLine, 1-800-999-9999
    - Look in the front of your phone book for a crisis line
    - Call a psychotherapist
    - Carefully choose a friend or a minister or rabbi, someone who is likely to listen.

    But don't give yourself the additional burden of trying to deal with this alone. Just talking about how you got to where you are, releases an awful lot of the pressure, and it might be just the additional coping resource you need to regain your balance.

    Suicidal feelings are, in and of themselves, traumatic. After they subside, you need to continue caring for yourself. Therapy is a really good idea. So are the various self- help groups available both in your community and on the Internet..."
  2. 17 Comments

  3. by   ShandyLynnRN
    Thanks. That was very informative, and I'm sure I will be back to re-read it again.

    It is so hard to be sympathetic to someone when you have no idea what they are going through. Especially when you don't understand it.

    I had a good friend that finally got help and was dx bipolar. She was to the point where she had a plan. I didn't know this until afterwords. Luckily, she found the strenght to cope until she got help.

    I still don't understand how a person could hurt so bad that they would leave their children without a parent on purpose. I know it is irrational thinking. I just wish I could sympathise more. (obviously without having to deal with it myself).

    Again, thanks for the info.
  4. by   canoehead
    Very informative post. Thanks.
  5. by   Sleepyeyes

    I so appreciate your post. You'll never believe how many of our elderly population that are terribly depressed for a variety of reasons, and have asked me to "help me end it."

    They'll tell me that they're depressed because "now I have to be dependent on everyone."

    Your suggestions are great, and I will use them. Up till now, I usually just sit down, listen to them, and then I put my hand on theirs and look into their eyes and say, "I see. You've never been very sick before, is that it? Well, I'm going to let you in on a secret-- you don't have to have perfect health to be loved and needed. We'd like to be here for you at this time in your life, if you'd like to give us the chance. I can't say what's going to happen with your health, but I can say that we'll be here to help you through it."

    Just a little understanding, a little compassion go a long way for these folks who've already been through so much in their lives.
    Last edit by Sleepyeyes on Mar 31, '03
  6. by   karenG
    thank you for this- will use this information in my work.

  7. by   niteshiftnurse
    Great post and website
  8. by   webbiedebbie
    A wonderful post. I have printed it out. Thanks.
  9. by   emily_mom
    Wonderful post Kavi, and I have printed it out. Thank you for sharing this with us!
  10. by   baseline
    Thanks kavi. Very helpful post.
  11. by   Furball
    [QUOTE]Originally posted by kavi
    [B]Suicide Help

    ........"Start by considering this statement
    "Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds
    resources for coping with pain."

    Wow...this statement is striking.... a very compassionate understanding of suicide.
  12. by   Robin61970
    Just think this needs to stay at the top for a while..I am going to print it out and share it with my nursing class.....
  13. by   Flynurse
    Originally posted by Robin61970
    Just think this needs to stay at the top for a while
    Dito....hoping this post helps with that.
    It was a very informative post. And as someone said it will be well needed help when our patients don't feel like they can handle it anymore! We don't always have the answers, but we can try with a little help from our friends.
  14. by   kavi
    I am so glad you all are finding this helpful! I was a little worried it would seem overbearing...