SURVIVOR SERIES: RESPONDING TO SUICIDAL IDEATION
DISCLAIMER: Consider your safety before following these steps. Do not put yourself in any type of danger.
Here are some steps to responding to suicidal ideation:
- ASSUME the suicidal threat is serious.
- ASK the person if they plan on committing suicide. Sometimes in order to clarify the situation you have to be direct. Say, “are you planning on killing yourself?” so that there is no confusion. Avoid sounding judgemental.
- FOLLOW UP with questions about their suicide plan. It is a myth that asking about suicide will “give them the idea.” In other words, don’t be afraid to ask specific questions.
- DETERMINE the immediacy of the situation.
- CONTACT the person’s mental health counselor and repeat what the person has told you. If they do not have a provider or if you do not know how to reach them, call the school’s 24/7 counseling hotline: 315.312.4416 (press 2 when prompted).
- HIDE any dangerous and potentially life-threatening items. For example, car keys, medication, knives, guns, rope, etc
- KEEP the person sober. If you are with someone who is thinking about suicide, one of the worst things they can do is drink, smoke, inject or ingest anything that could intoxicate them or become lethal. Alcohol, drugs, and even over-the-counter medications like Tylenol can be lethal.
- DO YOUR BEST to persuade the person into getting help. The desire for help has to come from them, so provide them with options. For example, give them the campus counseling hotline number or have them call 1-800-273-TALK, bring them to the hospital or clinic if they want to go, etc.
Again, it is important to be aware of your own safety. If you feel like any of these steps affect your safety, remove yourself from the situation and reach out for help.
Written and Researched by Sarah Pasquarelli, Peer Educator
Photo Cred:suicidal ideation photo