By: Aline-Vanya Guillaume, LCSW
“I want to kill myself” – 5 chilling words no one wants to hear from the other end of a conversation.
The thought of life being so dark and overwhelming, that the only rational solution is to take your life can be implausible for some. However, for others, including your loved ones, it is a reality.
Shaming and judging someone with hopes that they will change their mind does not work.
Scripture instructs us to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
Here are 11 practical tips that you can use if someone is transparent with you about having thoughts of taking their own life:
- Take them seriously; do not disregard their statement as attention seeking.
- Ask them questions to determine the reason(s) why, and also inquire about the method they plan to employ. If an individual discloses a lot of details about the method they will use to die by suicide, there is a greater possibility that they will carry it out.
- If possible, remove their weapon of choice from their home.
- If the person has specific details, call your city’s non-emergency number and ask for instructions on how to proceed. They may send someone to perform a wellness check, or a baker act might be in order. If nothing is done, call the suicide prevention hotline 1-800-273-8255. Someone there will instruct you on how to proceed.
- If the person does not have details, i.e. it was a thought, then just be present. This may be over the phone or in person. Comfort them by empathizing and actively listening.
- Ask, “Can I pray for you?”
- Continue to stay present and follow up multiple times throughout the day. Share encouraging scripture verses with them and continue to pray for them.
- Trust your intuition. If while following up they continue to talk about dying by suicide, call the suicide prevention hotline 1-800-273-8255. They should instruct you on how to proceed.
- If the individual verbalized a changed mind: with their permission, reach out to other trusted support systems to encourage community support. Isolation during this time must be avoided. If they live alone, I would recommend to have a trusted friend or family member sleeping over.
- Encourage the individual to share their thoughts with a trusted leader at their local church. This leader can assist with checking in and intercessory prayer.
- Encourage the individual to talk to a licensed therapist. Suicidal ideations are symptoms of a deeper rooted issue. Their life is precious in the sight of the Lord. There is always hope.
Important tip: Never promise to keep their thoughts or their attempts at suicide a secret.
For workshops or seminars regarding this topic please contact me at 954-526-6678 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The above list is not exhaustive and the topic of death by suicide was not covered in its entirety by this post. I mention calling the suicide hotline multiple times in this post because every case is different. They have trained professionals available 24 hours a day who will walk you through your specific circumstance.
For more information visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org and https://www.bethe1to.com.
There you can find articles about signs of suicidal ideations and additional resources.