Facts About Suicide
Most individuals provide some sort of “clues” that they are distressed and may be considering suicide.
Oftentimes, individuals communicate directly (“If such and such doesn’t happen, I’ll kill myself.”) or indirectly (“I’m so tired of this. I can’t go on.”) that they are thinking about suicide. Additionally, emotional/behavioral (e.g., hopelessness; depressed or irritable mood; social withdrawal; substance abuse) and situational (e.g., academic problems, significant losses) clues are often apparent.
Most individuals are relieved when someone else reaches out to offer empathy and support, asks if they are suicidal, and offers to assist them in getting help.
It is unusual for an individual to become angry when another person expresses care and concern for them. Additionally, you cannot cause a person to become suicidal by asking if s/he is having suicidal thoughts. Persons who are suicidal want their emotional/physical pain to be relieved, feel hopeless, and struggle with finding other options for relieving their pain. They often feel very alone. It can be relieving to know that someone is listening and willing to offer help.
Most individuals who attempt suicide are ambivalent about this decision until the final moment.
Most individuals do not want to die; they want their suffering to end and see no other options for relieving their pain. Directly asking someone if they are suicidal allows for an opportunity to offer hope and assistance with getting help, thereby reducing the chances of an impulsive act. If people in crisis get the help they need, they will likely not be suicidal again.
You can help prevent suicide.
Although we cannot save all lives to suicide, we can save many. Everyone has a role in preventing suicide, not just mental health professionals. When you show someone you care – asking if s/he is suicidal, persuading him or her to seek help, and referring him or her to an appropriate professional resource – you have given that person hope and alternatives for relieving his or her suffering. The QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training Program will teach you strategies on how to implement these three important steps and about the resources available in our community.