Know Someone at Risk for Suicide?


Last week I attended an eye-opening lecture on suicide prevention. Besides learning the awful statistics that there are 104 suicides/day and 18 veterans a day kill themselves, I learned how to talk to someone who may be at risk.

Darcy and Paul Granello, from The Ohio State University Counselor Education Department, gave the program. They very vividly described the pain that a person feels when they are thinking of ending their lives, and point out ways to give that person hope by referring them to a counselor who will listen to their problems and/or a doctor who can prescribe medication. Darcy and Paul have found that once a person gets help for suicidal thoughts, they never talk about it again. They learn to value themselves.

The Granellos talked mainly about teenagers and college age people, since their work is at the college level.

The most important thing I learned was how to talk to someone who may be thinking about killing themselves. First you need to know the signs, such as hearing statements like:

“You’d be better off without me.”

“Maybe I won’t be around.”

“Nothing matters!”

“There’s no end to this pain I feel.”

“It’s no use.”

“Doesn’t it ever get better?”

IF SOMEONE SAYS SOMETHING LIKE THIS TO YOU, THE WORST THING YOU CAN SAY IS NOTHING. The Granello’s have discovered that if people are thinking of suicide, if they tell someone about their thoughts and that person doesn’t respond at all, SILENCE TELLS THE VICTIM THAT NO ONE CARES. It reinforces the idea that killing themselves is a valid solution to their pain. However, most people find these statements uncomfortable and don’t know what to say, so the Granellos’s suggested the following possibilities:

LISTEN – be open and willing to hear what the person has to say. Questions that show interest may help move the conversation along, but avoid giving advice, making judgments, and offering your solution for the problem. Many times, young people need to be convinced that an adult’s concern is genuine before they’ll open up and talk about their feelings. Listen for feelings behind the words. This works for peers as well.

If you determine that a teen could be at risk, ask directly, “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” THIS WILL NOT PUT THE IDEA INTO THE TEEN’S HEAD. The signals that caught your attention were already there. Asking this difficult question will open the door for a dialogue about what is going on and give you a chance to help.

If the teen admits to having thoughts of suicide, it is critical that you stay calm. Hear them out, treat his or her feelings with genuine concern, and take them seriously. Be sure to contact others to help with the problems. Don’t try to handle it alone. Involve parents, counselors, and community resources as needed.

Darcy and Paul’s main point is that suicide is not about death – it is about finding an end to the pain! The Granello’s know that the pain doesn’t end when someone kills themself. It just passes to someone else. The Granello’s son killed himself, and his pain became their pain, and opened the door for years of study on the subject. It was a very inspiring lecture. For more info try:

http://www.siblingsurvivors.com/index.htm

http://www.friendsandfamiliesofsuicide.com/

http://www.parentsofsuicide.com/

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Greta Hanesworth
    Oct 01, 2013 @ 15:05:11

    Thanks, Nancy, That was very informative and I bet it will help a lot of people. Both the person suffering from emotional pain and the people around them. Together we can make a difference and God does love us all and wants to bless each soul.
    I, too, at one time had thoughts of suicide and His love helped me through it.

    Reply

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