Suicide Prevention Coalition of the Ozarks explains how to help a someone struggling with suicidal thoughts

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 8:14 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - According to the Centers for Disease Control, overall suicide rates are lower than in 2019, except among the senior population. And 36% of people who died of suicide in 2019 were over the age of 55.

People will sometimes give clues they have suicidal thoughts by saying things like “I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up” or “I don’t think I can go on any longer”. They may also do things like give away prized possessions or withdrawing from activities they used to enjoy. If you notice these behaviors in a friend or family member, it’s okay to reach out and ask them if they are okay.

Officials at the Suicide Prevention Coalition of the Ozarks want people to know the signs someone is considering suicide and how to start a life-saving conversation.

“People when they have those thoughts of suicide, which is very common, they keep those thoughts very hidden inside them because they’re fearful of sharing those thoughts,” said Suicide Prevention Coalition of the Ozarks Chairperson Ed Derr. “They’re fearful that their friends or family members are going to somehow abandon them, reject them, or not want to be friends with them. They don’t share those thoughts. Now, when it’s people that they know, people that they maybe have some feelings back for, for some friendship or love type of feelings, that creates an environment that’s a little bit easier to share those feelings of suicide.”

There are three steps you can take when someone is considering suicide. First, question if they are planning to end their life. This can be challenging, but it also shows that you care. Speak with them privately and listen without judgment.

“I think people are afraid to ask the question about suicide because they feel like oh, what if I’m wrong?” said Derr. “Then you reel it back in, say, oh, I’m sorry. I was just concerned about you, I love you, then it’s okay.”

Next, if they have expressed suicidal thoughts, persuade them to stay safe and help them find hope. Show them that you care for them and want them to continue living or help them find something to look forward.

“We want people to reach out for that help, but they just can’t sometimes, because of all the heavy feelings they feel,” said Derr. “For the rest of us, if you’re getting a gut feeling about how they’re doing, ask and that might make all the difference to get those conversations started.”

And finally, refer them to someone who can help. It could be a doctor or licensed counselor who can help them get through whatever hardship they face.

Talking about suicide can be challenging, but simply reaching out to show you care can save a life. If you need someone to talk to, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to talk to a licensed counselor.

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