In honor of Suicide Awareness Week

World Suicide Prevention Day was Monday September 10th.  I am writing this blog because I have been touched by suicide. I lost a best friend and it makes me sad and bewildered to this day. I just went to my 40th high school reunion and she was remembered in a video honoring those we had lost. I wish she had been sitting beside me enjoying the evening. I had no idea the depth of her emotional pain.

Two other seemingly “on top of the world” celebrities also committed suicide recently. The suicides of both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have spawned a much needed discussion around anxiety, depression and what to do if you suspect someone is suicidal or in crisis.

Here are 6 questions to ask someone you suspect may be contemplating suicide:

  1. Do you have a plan? This denotes a difference between contemplation and intention. If they have a plan, assume they are intentional.
  2. Where do you see yourself next year? This will let you know if they have hope for the future, and maybe give you a glimpse into where they place that hope.
  3. Has anyone in your family completed suicide? This establishes a pre-disposition for completing suicide.
  4. Would you still want to die if circumstances changed? This will help determine if they are reacting to current circumstances or if something bio-chemical is happening like in Tyler’s case.
  5. Do you want to go to the hospital? This helps to determine a course of action for you take with them.
  6. How can I help you right now? This lets them know you are there for them and also determines a course of action.

I have learned that it’s important to connect, stay connected, and move towards anyone in crisis.  The above questions should be asked directly and matter-of-factly, and without judgment.  Ask with care, concern and love for the person you are trying to help. And, above all, listen and act if you need to!

If you think anyone is a danger to themselves and won’t go to the hospital, or allow you to help, call 911.  Emergency response professionals are trained to determine the best course of action.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain (a life) by taking this action.

Someone in my life recently shared their own thoughts of suicide with me.  I took action and moved towards this person asking the above questions to determine the depth of despair and measurable intent.  In the end, we did not go to the hospital. I received a note from this person who thanked me and in part, wrote:  “Thank you for asking such perfectly specific questions, and for not panicking when I shared honestly . . . I felt like you handed me back my strength.”

Other ways to get help:

  1. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with someone in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
  2. Text 741741 from anywhere in the US to text with a trained Crisis Counselor.  Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 support for those in crisis.
  3. Donate to Hilinski’s Hope or other organizations that help fund programs to help educate, advocate and destigmatize mental illness. Let’s work to open up discussion!

If you have helped in crisis and want to share a comment, or idea, please feel free to share.

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Dana Engdahl, Energy Healing Practitioner
(509) 252-0845