When Someone You Know...
...Might Be Suicidal
The Connection Between Depression and Suicide
(Also see our brochure on Depression)
Depression, left untreated, can be fatal. In the U.S., every year, over 30,000 people kill themselves. Experts say that the actual figure might be 3 times as many, because many suicides are reported as accidents. 95% of all suicides occur when people feel complete despair and hopelessness.
Depression can distort people’s thinking, so they can’t think clearly. They might not realize that they have a very treatable illness called depression. They might think that they cannot be helped, and they can be helped, through medication, therapy, and/or other treatment. Because depression can lead to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, this state can lead to suicidal thoughts.
If depression is recognized and treated, suicidal thoughts can be eliminated.
Many suicides can be prevented.
What are the Warning Signs of Suicide?
- Statements about hopelessness, helplessness or worthlessness:
“Life is pointless.”
“Everyone would be better off without me.”
“It doesn’t matter. I won’t be around much longer anyway.”
- Preoccupation with death. Constant death themes in music, drawings, or literature. Writing letters or notes referring to death or “the end.”
- Loss of interest in things one usually cares about.
- Self-destructive behavior, such as alcohol/drug abuse, self-injury/mutilation, sexual promiscuity (including unprotected sex)
- Other high-risk behavior, such as reckless driving/excessive speeding, dodging in front of traffic, recklessness on bridges, cliffs, balconies.
- Previous suicide attempts. A history of accidents that resulted in injury, “close calls,” or brushes with death. Obsession with guns or knives.
- Giving possessions away, “putting one’s affairs in order”. Unusual amount of visiting or calling people–essentially saying his/her “goodbyes.”
- Suddenly calmer or happier. Don’t misinterpret this sign! Often, a depressed/suicidal person feels better once she has made up her mind to end her life, since she believes the pain will finally be over. If this person was just previously deeply depressed, get her professional crisis help right away.
What are Some Myths About Suicide?
These statements are NOT TRUE:
- “People who talk about suicide won’t do it.” (¾ of all suicides give some warning.)
- “A person must be‘crazy’ to try to kill him/herself.”
- “If people are determined to kill themselves, nothing is ever going to stop them anyway.”
- “People who commit suicide were not willing to seek help.”
- “Don’t ever ask someone if he’s considering suicide, because it might suddenly give him the idea to do it!”
- ALL THE STATEMENTS ABOVE ARE FALSE!
What Can I Do if Someone I Know Might be Suicidal?
- Gently express your caring and concern for him or her.
- Ask him/her: “Do you ever feel so bad that you feel like killing yourself?”
- If the person answers “yes,” ask more questions:
- “Do you have a plan?”
- “Have you worked out how you would carry out your plan?”
- “How would you do it?”
- “Do you have access to what you would use?”
- “Do you possess this now?
The more complete the plan and the means, the greater the need to get help immediately!
How Do I Get Help?
- Take him/her to the nearest hospital emergency room or
- Call a Care Crisis Line (Snohomish Co: 425.258.HELP (4357) or 1.800.584.3578 In King
Co.: 206.461.3222 or 1.800.244.5767
and explain what is happening.
(If you aren’t sure whether the person is really suicidal, call a Care Crisis Line, tell the crisis counselor your concerns, and ask for guidance. The Care Crisis Lines above are staffed 24 hours a day, and interpreters for Non-English speakers are often available.)
- Or Call 911 and explain the situation
- Always take thoughts of, plans for, or talk about suicide seriously. [People with certain personality disorders are chronically suicidal. They might refuse to talk or might avoid direct or serious answers. Suicide is not a game--tell them that you are taking the suicide potential seriously.]
- Never agree to keep someone’s plan for suicide a secret.
- Listen, don’t lecture or argue with the person. Let him know that you care, that he is not alone, that suicidal feelings are temporary, and that depression can be treated. Calmly ask if he can think of anything to live for. Many people can.
- Don’t disagree with any religious or philosophical beliefs or taboos that he/she has against suicide, like, “If I kill myself, I might go to Hell.” “I might be reincarnated and have to go through all of this again!” “I might die, but maybe good things were just about to happen!” Use anything that works! Your job is to try to keep the person alive until a qualified professional can see him/her.
- If the person does not seem to be in immediate danger, ask her to call the Crisis Line to talk to a crisis counselor (and/or make an appointment with a Counseling and Resource Center counselor). If you are with her, you could offer to stay while she talks. If you are not with her (on phone or E-mail), ask her to call you to explain what the counselor suggested.
- You are not expected to be a counselor or “expert.” If you are scared, you can call the Crisis Line yourself and ask what you can do in this situation.
|Learn More About Suicide Prevention:|
|American Foundation for Suicide Prevention|
|SAVE - Suicide Awareness Voice of Education|
What If I Think I Might be Depressed? What If I Have Suicidal Thoughts?
Whether you are concerned about someone you know or about your own mental health, the same options and information described in this brochure are available, including the following:
- First, remember that depression is an illness that can be caused by many things.
- See a medical doctor first to explore any physical causes for depression and treatment.
- Call the Crisis Line or 911 right away if you’re in danger of harming yourself.
- If you do not feel in immediate danger, you might make an appointment with an Edmonds CC Counseling and Resource Center counselor to discuss your concerns and to find out how to move toward feeling better!
|Care Crisis Line|
|Snohomish County Care Crisis Line:||425.258.HELP (4357) or 1.800.584.3578|
|(24-hour telephone crisis counseling; interpreters available)|
|King County Crisis Line:||206.461.3222 or 1.800.244.5767|