Carrie Krawiec was recently interviewed by Thriveworks to discuss tactics for dealing wiwth suicidal friends or loved ones. Suicide is one of the most difficult topics to discuss, yet one of the most important, and friends and family members often feel ill-equipped to deal with the topic.
Here are the extended responses from the article:
Q. What measures should one take if they suspect a friend/loved one/classmate is suicidal?
A. Ask directly. Do you have thoughts or feelings of hurting or harming yourself? Do you think this world would be better without you? Do you think about death? Do you wish you were dead? If yes ask if they would act on these thoughts. If yes to a question like that then ask. Do you have a plan? or Have you thought about how you would do it? If yes then ask “Do you have the tools to carry out that plan?” If yes to any or all of these you should call 911 or take your friend to the emergency room for a proper psychiatric evaluation. The hospital will then make referrals for appropriate intervention like longer in patient stay or outpatient therapy. It’s important to act as though it’s an emergency (because it is) as opposed to waiting to get in with a outpatient therapist or psychiatrist which can take weeks because though often as these thoughts can be fleeting they can also pop back in and when alone your friend may not be equipped to stop themselves from acting on them.
Q. Or perhaps sinking into a deep despair that could lead to suicidal thoughts?
A. Consider asking scaling questions meaning 1-10 scale. On a 1-10 scale 1 being suicidal or wanting to die and 10 being feeling well where would you put yourself. Ask at least daily and look for trends. If the number is moving southward ask questions about plan, intent, and means as stated above.
Read the rest of the article on Thriveworks here.