It is dire that you get help if you are dealing with a teen who is contemplating or has tried committing suicide. This is something that professionals can help you navigate and definitely something you don't want to do on your own. We have discussed the statistics, risk factors, and warning signs this week. Now what do you do to get help?
1. If you notice warning signs, don't be afraid to confront that person. It is a myth that confronting someone out of concern could possibly "plant" the idea of suicide in someone's mind. Though not every situation is this way, most teens are willing to discuss their thoughts and feelings if confronted by someone out of love and concern. Just talking about it can help the person to feel less isolated and alone, more understood, and can assist the person in seeing that suicide isn't the way to get through a painful time- to realize there are other solutions that are much better. It might make the difference in the person getting the additional help they need.
2. Do not attempt to be the sole individual that helps someone who is contemplating suicide. Do not keep the person's suicidal thoughts or feelings "a secret", even if they swear you to secrecy. This can be very difficult for teens, as they feel entrusted by the individual, and fear that they will be hurting the person even worse or betraying them by sharing their deepest feelings with an adult or a parent. If someone is contemplating suicide, they are depressed, and are unable to see that suicide is never the answer to their problems. They need professional help, guidance, and support. Do not assume that the feeling will just "go away", or wait to see if the person starts to "feel better'. Taking the risk of making that person angry for breaking the promise of secrecy just might be the thing that saves that person's life.
3. If you feel suicidal, or have been struggling with depression that is leading to thoughts of suicide, talk to anyone you know, as soon as you can-- a friend, a pastor or clergy from your church, a teacher, school counselor, a coach, your doctor, or a trusted adult. Again, when a person has been feeling down for so long, it's hard to see that suicide is not the answer-- it's a permanent solution to a very temporary and fixable problem.
4. If you are contemplating suicide, or if you think a friend is contemplating suicide, call your local emergency services, or call the National Suicide Helpline: 1-800-SUICIDE. The call is toll-free, and the phone is answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by experienced and trained professional counselors. You do not have to give them your name. They can advise you further in what to do to get help for yourself if you are suicidal, or for your friend, if they are refusing to call on their own. If your friend is contemplating suicide, do not leave them alone! Call your emergency services (911), the suicide helpline, or a trusted adult, and stay with that person until help arrives.
5. If you have a friend or know a teen who is going through a difficult time or crisis-- such as the divorce of a parent, a break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, a move or change in residence or schools or a death of a friend or loved one-- ask them how they are doing, how they are coping, if they are getting support, and if they need more support.
We sincerely hope you never have to face this as a parent, a friend, or relative. But if you do, we hope this will help guide you. Tomorrow Joleen will help us in coping and surviving the suicide of a friend or loved one, as well as give us more resources. Thank you for reading.
Written by Natalie Chandler
Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC LCAC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.