Trigger warning: Explicit mention of suicide.
By Raquel Lyons
Make sure to ask the person if they have a suicide plan, if they’ve acted on it, if they have a method, are they going to act on their suicidality NOW, and so forth….
You see, there’s a spectrum when it comes to suicidality. On one hand you have people who have fleeting thoughts about suicide–the people who think “Oh hey, I could totally jump in front of this train. Weird.” These thoughts could be distressing but they fly away without further consideration.
On a middle ground, you have a person who has a plan to die by suicide with some vague details and setting it five months in advance. This may be of medium concern, certainly the suicidality becomes more concerning as you go up the spectrum.
On the high risk end, you have a person who has a specific plan of suicide, who has intentions to act on their plan and is going to do so immediately, either today or tomorrow. Or, it is possible that the person is experiencing more frequent and intense thoughts about suicide with the plan or intent to act on them and therefore also falls under the more concerning category. That is a suicidal crisis. It is a medical emergency and it should be treated as such.
The person is at the highest of risk to complete their suicide.
Of course there are other factors involved that increase the risk of suicide such as previous suicide attempts (suicide attempts are prone to become more dangerous as they continue to happen), a history of trauma or mental health issues, a history of self-harm, previous psychiatric hospitalizations, more risk factors than protective factors and a few more.
For me it’s been my experience that I think about suicide, I consider suicide and then I act on a suicidal thought. Considering is higher than just thinking about it because for me it entails the finer details of planning. Someone who may be of a lower risk for suicide may say they want to hang themselves, for instance. In the same scenario, I could tell you I’m going to use my laptop cord to hang myself on the third branch of an oak tree. That’s a lot more specific! (I won’t be doing that, by the way!!).
But this shows what some of the language can involve when regarding suicidality. I have learned to become very open and very blunt about my chronic suicidality. Part of it is because the OCD’s got jokes, which are often more hilarious than they should be and part of it came with the secondary depression for me. Talking about suicide became like talking about the weather. In my dark days I was so consumed by always thinking about suicide that it lost its meaning and seriousness. Depression in one way gave me the ability to be very blunt with how I was feeling, but also took away my voice so that I didn’t tell people how I was feeling.
And, to be honest, sitting alone in a suicidal crisis with no one knowing what was going on made it much worse than if I had had a buddy with me to help me trudge through the slime.
Next, know where to get help–either to give to the person who is feeling suicidal or to make use of it yourself. During the hours they are open, the Counseling Center is available to you. They are located in Quinn 2nd floor all the way down the hall.
If they are not available, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1800-273-TALK. If the crisis is immediate (i.e. happening right now) you can also dial 911, contact Public Safety if you’re on campus, or bring that person to the nearest emergency room. There is also Craig Bidiman you can talk to; he’s located in CC-3-3407.
These are just some of the resources available to you. If you are ever in a suicidal crisis and are wondering what to do next–before you try to end your life, reach out to someone. Contact a hotline, text a crisis number, read about how other people have stayed alive through suicidality, find this article, use metanoia.org–just tell someone and be as honest and open as you can.
If you’ve never been to a psychiatric hospitalization before and are afraid they’ll “keep you forever”, find positive experiences people have had on the Internet, on Youtube or read through my series about my experiences with hospitalizations.
If you’re interested in learning more about what helpful things versus not so helpful things you can say to someone who is going through suicidality, stay tuned for the third installment of this series!
Until then, stay safe.
Written and Edited October 17th and November 2nd 2016
We shall see where this series takes us, shall we?
I’m thinking of misconceptions about suicide, maybe stigma, my recent experiences (maybe) or do something different for that, do’s and don’ts! (I’d love to hear your thoughts and if you’re okay with it, including them in the article!!) I’ll explain more of that later. And yeah. Some good shit, peeps.
I shall wander off now for my IOOV! 🙂