Our counselor Faryn shares below some very practical actions she has learned in her time working with individuals suffering with thoughts of suicide and what we can do as teachers, friends, parents, and loved ones in response:
Unfortunately, something I see more often than not in my practice is highly suicidal children, teens and young adults. Within the last couple of years, suicide has become a trending topic in social media and, consequently, is a topic of conversation amongst many individuals. According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, suicide rates are at an all-time high and show rates have been increasing over the last couple of years. While I’d love to get into the “why’s” of suicide and individuals suffering from suicidal thoughts, what I want to share with you today are six things that you can do (or not do) if your friend, family member or loved one is suffering with these thoughts. If you’ve experienced this, then you probably know that supporting an individual who is suicidal is scary, heartbreaking and creates a disruption in the dynamic you have with that individual. From my experience in helping those suffering and their loved ones, here are some tips for being a helpful to those who are suffering:
1. Always Play It Safe: If anyone confides in you that they’re planning on attempting suicide or you feel someone is on the verge of committing suicide, regardless if you think it’s for attention, ALWAYS call for a welfare check, tell their loved ones, and/or take them to the hospital. The long standing idea that people threaten suicide for negative attention or are “crying wolf” deflects from the severity of this rising issue. To listen to such a fallacy would be and could be a grave mistake. You can call in a welfare check to your local police department and will need to include the individual’s name, location, and contact information. Expect your loved one to be in the hospital for a minimum of 72 hours and to receive copious amounts of medical and psychological attention.
2. What To Do “After the Storm”: After release from the hospital, your loved one is going to be emotionally exhausted. If your loved one acts fine; they’re lying. To support them, take their recovery seriously, and understand that if they’re experiencing a variety of emotions it’s normal and doesn’t necessarily mean they’re still “in the danger zone”.
3. Don’t Put a Price Tag on Their Lives: Follow the aftercare plan you’ve been given by the professionals at the hospital. If you weren’t given one, a simple plan is to get your loved one in to see a therapist and psychiatrist immediately. A psychiatrist is necessary for medication management. Seeing a therapist is NOT something that can wait! Find a therapist that your loved one has a good connection with and relentlessly pursue therapy until your loved one feels comfortable and their therapist feels confident in their progress. The cost of therapy upfront is an important investment that could save a priceless life.
4. Find Your Own Support: This process is emotionally draining and incredibly stressful, not only for the individual suffering, but for YOU as the support and person who loves them. Whether it be through your own therapy, a support group, family, and/or friends, it is important for you to have someone to work through your emotions with. You will be navigating uncharted waters and will need help deciding what you feel comfortable with regarding new rules and boundaries you have with your loved one to keep them safe, along with the emotions you’re experiencing for yourself.
5. What You Might Feel: You’re going to experience a gamut of emotions. You’re going to want to do everything in your power to keep your loved one safe and alive. Anxiety may consume you and you might even feel physically ill. Please know that there is only so much you can do. You are responsible for being loving, supportive, listening to your loved one, making changes you need to/ have control over, ensuring they get the help they need and providing unconditional love.
6. Warning Signs- The Miracle Cure: There are two key factors to pay attention to when someone is suicidal that aren’t talked about frequently. When someone commits to attempting suicide they see a light at the end of the tunnel. This means they may take a turn from the signs designated on www.afsp.org and start doing things they love again. They may come across as a completely different person. They will likely contact their loved ones and friends expressing their love and gratitude for those individuals. It will seem as if they took “the miracle cure” and seem to be “out of the woods”. If you’re noticing this in your loved one, be aware and take some form of action immediately. You can’t be too careful!
If you or someone you love is experiencing thoughts of suicide, contact Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-TALK (8255), call 911, or head to your nearest emergency room. Just a reminder, Cornerstone Christian Counseling is not a crisis counseling center, but we want to get the word out about suicide prevention. Call or email us if you have any questions – we’re here to help.
We are so grateful to God for continuing to bring wonderfully qualified counselors to our practice, and are excited to introduce the author of this article and new clinician to our team: Faryn Bryant!
As a professional, Faryn earned her Bachelor of Science in Community, Family and Addiction Services from Texas Tech University and her Master of Science in Counseling from Lubbock Christian University. She’s worked with children, adolescents, adults and the elderly facing a plethora of life issues. She’s had the pleasure of helping individuals within an inpatient setting struggling with addiction, as well as children transitioning through the foster care system healing from loss of family members and trauma. Her work has extended to helping individuals that are victims of abuse to those navigating bereavement. Furthermore, she has worked with many adolescents in school systems that struggled with their home lives. A majority of her clients have sought help for mood disorders, trauma, abuse, life transitions, addiction, bereavement, anxiety, self-worth, anger management, rebuilding relationships, divorce recovery, communication, co-dependency and striving to live healthier lifestyles. Faryn works at our new Westminster location.