UP Coalition Network

Suicide Prevention

If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please contact

Dial Help or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Local Resources

Dial Help has a 24/7 UP-wide Crisis Line for people in crisis. They also maintain a list of mental health counselors by county. You can contact the Crisis Line by calling 800-562-7622, texting 35NEEDS (906-356-3337), or visiting their website.

Community Mental Health serves individuals who have a chronic or severe mental illness, and have or are expected to experience significant impairment in their day to day functioning.

NorthCare Network manages funding to help pay for treatment. You can contact NorthCare toll-free at 888-333-8030 for an assessment to see if you are eligible.

Language Matters

Because suicide is already a touchy topic with a lot of stigma attached, it’s important to talk about suicide with care. We don’t need to berate anyone for using a “wrong” term. We may slip up ourselves! But it is always helpful to use the appropriate language whenever possible, and to gently educate others when the opportunity arises.

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Warning Signs of Suicide

The following are common warning signs of suicide:

  • Talking about:
    • Wanting to die or kill oneself
    • Looking for a way to kill oneself
    • Feeling hopeless/no reason to live
    • Feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
    • Being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol/drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated
  • Behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings
  • Dealing with extreme emotional pain or personal crisis
  • Giving away possessions

Asking the Tough Questions

If someone is displaying one or more of the warning signs for suicide, ask them directly if they are thinking about killing themselves. Try to use a calm, non-judgmental voice and keep eye contact. Remember, research has shown that asking someone if they are suicidal will NOT provoke them to kill themselves.

If someone discloses that they are thinking about suicide, don’t panic. The next question to ask is if they’ve thought about how they would kill themselves. If so, try to remove the means for suicide (rope, knife, gun, pills, etc.). Explain that you care about them, and you want to keep them away from anything they could use to harm themselves while they are going through this very hard time in their lives. Practice asking questions like:

  • “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”
  • “Are you considering suicide?”
  • “What is your plan?”
  • “How would you die if you decided to?”

Listen, Listen, Listen

Let the person know that it’s safe to talk to you about suicide. Ask what’s going on that has them thinking about killing themselves, then just listen. Be empathetic rather than turning the conversation to yourself and your experiences. Remember, something that doesn’t seem like a big deal to you can be extremely difficult for someone else to deal with. Just let this person get their emotions off their chest. Above all, don’t judge them. It takes a lot of courage to talk about feeling suicidal, and feeling judged is a big reason why people keep those feelings inside.

Connect to Resources for Help

It’s common for someone thinking about suicide to ask that you keep it a secret. Explain that suicide is a deadly secret, and they need plenty of support. Help them identify at least one other person to tell, and go with them to talk to the person, or help them make the phone call. You can also provide them with the resources at the top of this page, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-TALK, 800-273-8255).

If they’re nervous about contacting a crisis line, offer to sit with them while they do. If you feel that someone is in IMMEDIATE danger of killing themselves, take them to the hospital or contact the police for assistance.

Follow Up

Check in with the person in the days and weeks after they disclose they’ve been thinking about suicide. Let them know that you care and see how they’re doing. Evidence has shown that such follow-up support can make a real difference in helping a suicidal person stay alive.

Special Considerations for Youth

Youth are particularly vulnerable to suicide due to major transitions and significant cognitive, mental, emotional, and social change. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth age 15-24. Approximately one out of every 15 high school students reports attempting suicide each year. For females, girls 10-14 have had the largest increase in suicide rates since 1999. If someone under the age of 18 discloses that they are suicidal, make sure to tell the youth’s parent or guardian—unless doing so would put the young person in danger. In this case, contact Child Protective Services.

Sources: http://www.speakingofsuicide.com/2013/04/13/language/
http://www.samhsa.gov/suicide-prevention
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/getinvolved/suicide-prevention-month-16.aspx
http://youth.gov/youth-topics/youth-suicide-prevention
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db241.htm

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