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    "Worrying is like a rocking chair: It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere."
    Van Wilder, posted by Daniel
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I know that detaching yourself from friends and family and things you love and enjoy doing could be a symptom of suicidal thinking. Would it be rude to ask someone if they're thinking about suicide? I just wonder if that would push them farther away.
 

David Baxter

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It might be a sign of suicidal thinking. It's more likely to be a sign of grief and/or depression.

Rather than asking the person about suicidal thinking, try just mentioning that you worry about how s/he is doing and asking if there is any thing at all that you can do to help, even if it's only hanging out or listening.
 
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That's a good idea.

I think it probably is grief and depression.

And I'm not much of anything or good at much of anything, but I think I can be a good listener.
 

Holly

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Dear Janet,
That is not so, your a very caring individual, you went to the forum for information, you have many skills. You have to believe that your a wonderful friend. Your more than someone who is a good listener!
Your very special person! :)
 

Peanut

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And I'm not much of anything or good at much of anything, but I think I can be a good listener.

Janet, come on!!
Whether you admit it or not we all know that you are really good at a lot of things besides listening.

You are soooo smart and caring, and an outstanding mother...and you are the most wonderful friend a person could ask for.

Anyone who has you in their life is extremely LUCKY!!
 

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detaching yourself from friends and family and things you love and enjoy doing could be a symptom of suicidal thinking

Janet,

I am by no means an expert in suicide intervention, however I recently attended a suicide intervention workshop and am interested in pursuing this discussion with you, if you wish to relate this person's situation with some of the things I learned in the workshop.

As Dr. Baxter alluded to, and what we learned is withdrawl in and of itself is not necessarily a sign of suicidal thoughts. However it can be a red flag and should be considered in conjunction with other behaviors and possible mood changes.

Is this person normally withdrawn or are they active and involved? Are there any other striking changes?

As others have suggested engaging the person in a supportive conversation, asking about what might be bothering them, because you've noticed a change in them and you are concerned.

If it sounds like this person might be suicidal, it's OK to identify the presence of suicidal thoughts by asking a clear and unambiguous question, "are you thinking about suicide?" or "sometimes people who feel this way think about suicide...are you thinking about suicide?"

If they say yes, they will likely sense relief at disclosing their deep secret, but now you need to facilitate a link to a resource who is familiar with suicide intervention. If they say "no, I've just been having a bunch of headaches" or some other logical explanation, then that's that. However, if you decide you wish to help, you need to be prepared for an affirmative answer, and remain calm and supportive if you hear "yes".

You may wish to prepare yourself by having with you the number for your local suicide crisis center, so your friend can receive the necessary intervention care.

As I said, I've completed this workshop only recently and would welcome any comments on the suggestions I've presented.
 

David Baxter

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TSOW said:
As Dr. Baxter alluded to, and what we learned is withdrawl in and of itself is not necessarily a sign of suicidal thoughts. However it can be a red flag and should be considered in conjunction with other behaviors and possible mood changes.

Is this person normally withdrawn or are they active and involved? Are there any other striking changes?

But before you answer that question, also ask the question, has anything occurred in this person's life which would be expected to result in a certain amount of withdrawal from interpersonal interactions? In the case of grief, the answer would typically be "yes".
 
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I am going to try to listen and be supportive the best I can. I'm concerned because of a comment she made about not wanting to go on, but I think that could also be a grief reaction.

I know she had at least one appointment with a counselor, but I'm not sure if she went back.

Thanks for the replies. :)
 

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Janet,

It sounds like you're doing the right thing to talk with your friend. You may want to revisit that comment you referred to with her in your conversation.

She's fortunate to have a caring friend like you.

This Forum posting contains some helpful information on talking to a person having thoughts of suicide.
 

David Baxter

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I do think it's important to remain in contact with and be supportive to someone you are worried mught be suicidal. But do remember that for someone who has lost a child it is not uncommon to think "I don't want to be here any more. I don't want to go on without my child." - that is not necessarily suicidal thinking (although it could be) - often it's simply a realistic statement of how that person feels. I felt exactly that way when I lost my daughter. But there is no way I would have acted on that thought for a number of reasons.
 

Halo

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Janet,

I think that you are a great friend to be so concerned and she is so lucky to have you in her life. ;)

Nancy
 

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David,

I am so sorry to hear about your daughter's passing. It must have been a very difficult time for you.
 

Holly

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Dear Doc,
Sorry for the loss of a loved one, it is always difficult for many families to experience such an traumatic event. Thank you for sharing something so personal with everyone at the forum! Also about the feelings everyone who experiences a loss may relate too.
Take care :)
 

Mia713

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Well I think it depends on how well you know the person. If its a good friend your concerned about than I think it's okay to ask them. But maybe instead of coming right out with "Are you suicidal?", you should ask them in a more subtle way; "Is everything ok? You have seem withdrawn lately." This will give them the oppurtunity to confide in you and seek your help if they are feeling suicidal, but also not make them feel as if you are accusing them of anything since you are asking in a more general way.
 

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Mia,

You are right about approaching the person gradually and in a non threatening manner. The idea would be to establish a sense of trust, so the person at risk can feel comfortable in opening up.

According to the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training Workshop, this phase of the intervention is referred to as Connecting. Bu once the person at risk has given you enough information that suggests they may be at risk of suicide, such as suggesting "they can't take it anymore" or have demonstrated other forms of unusual behaviour to their usual way of life, it's OK and advisable to ask the question "are you thinking of suicide".

The Workshop advises that the question be clear and unambiguous, and that the answer be just as clear so you both know what you are talking about. Asking about hurting yourself could be honestly answered by "no" because the person at risk is not planning on hurting themselves, they are thinking of killing themselves.

If the person answers yes to the suicide question, the approach should be to get them in touch with skilled intervention counselors and ensure their safety until they can be turned over to a safe place.
 

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