Suicide Prevention Month: How to Help

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CENTENNIAL HIGH SCHOOL- Suicide. Just the word alone creates a sense of uncomfort in the hearts of most people, but in reality, this is a topic which really needs to be discussed far more. There are several different opinions surrounding such a deep topic, and it really brings one to wonder, how many people really know the true intensity of the matter and what they can do to support someone going through a tough time regarding suicide.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. Additionally, the year 2019 saw 47,511 American deaths from suicide as well as 1.38 million suicide attempts. As the month of September comes to an end, so does suicide prevention month. And because this is a very serious issue, it’s important to recognize its severity as well as how to help someone who may be silently struggling.
Before anything, it is important to reflect on whether or not you are in a proper state to help someone suicidal. The things you will need to most effectively provide them with proper support are your time and emotional availability. If you are ready to help them but are unsure on how, the steps outlined below are a great place to start:

Assess the situation
The first thing you will need to do is assess the situation of the person and roughly determine the severity of their suicidal feelings. If after observing you feel that they are in danger, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (800-273-8255) which is available 24 hours. If you assess the situation and feel as if the situation is not presently dangerous, you can follow the next steps.

Listen to them without judgement
One of the most helpful things you can do to help someone who is having suicidal thoughts is to give them a person to talk to. Talking to someone about their feelings can have immensely positive effects on a person’s mental state. On the other hand however, be patient with them if they are hesitant to talk and make sure to be approachable, stay free of judgement, and listen open-mindedly.

Give reassurance and support
Reassuring someone who is going through a hard time mentally can make them feel like they have someone who truly cares about them, which can help combat harmful feelings. Simply letting them know that you are here for them and being ready to support them through their hard times can be extremely helpful.

Help them make a safety plan
A suicide safety plan is a set of instructions for a person to turn to when they are having suicidal or self-harming thoughts. This can be a list of all the positive things in a person’s life, their favorite activities, things to calm them down when they are upset or coping mechanisms, or a mix of all of these or whatever else they want to add. Sit down with the person and help them make a safety plan to use when they are feeling down. This way, they have something to turn to whenever they need.

Help them in finding resources to help
Lastly, make sure your friend knows what resources are available to them to help them when they are feeling suicidal. Either forward them the information, or help them make a list of resources such as the numbers of trusted friends or family members, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline website, as well as any other resources you both feel may be helpful.

As suicide becomes a growing public health problem in the United States, it is important to know the steps to help someone going through this difficult problem. Understanding these steps, as well as just being willing to be there for those who need help, is an excellent way to help show support for Suicide Prevention Month.

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