More threads by pip


I can say from personal experience that people are more likely to talk to a friend about wanting to die as opposed to calling a stranger on a suicide hotline. At first, I've never known what to say when a friend tells me they want to die, and sort of had to go with what I'd want to hear, or stalling.

Not all of us are trained therapists, and so not all of us know what to do in this kind of situation. I'm not suggesting a replacement for therapy or a suicide hotline, but more a 'First Aid' approach, so we aren't left dumbfounded if/when approached.

My approach is pretty simple:

1. Stay calm. DO NOT CONDEMN IT. Phrases like 'suicide is a permanent answer to a temporary problem' only serve to push people away, and they're not likely to return to you for help later on. The trick is to avoid mentioning your opinion on the act entirely.

2. Ask questions. From experience, I've noticed that a lot of people approach you because they want someone to help them make the decision. Sometimes it's because the decision was already made, in which case you can't really offer much more than a hug, but it's always important to question. I ask questions like:

'Are you sure you want to do this?'
'If it isn't too personal, would you like to share why with me?'
'What other approaches have you tried?'

In reference to the last question, you can suggest alternatives, but be very careful not to go too far: watch for signs of frustration, and in the event that you do manage to frustrate the person, calm them down with something along the lines of 'That's fine, it's your choice, I'm not forcing you into anything' etc.

3. Empathy. Empathy and intimacy are very important. Take your cues from the person, and ask first. Often times I'll ask a person if they'll let me hold them for a while, and sometimes that's all that is necessary, a hug, and human touch to remind them that they're important. I regularly tell my friends how much I love them, and when I can afford it, I send them little gifts to remind them how much I care about them. Not only good prevention, but it really does help to know someone loves and cares and worries about you. Don't talk about how they'll hurt the people who love them, or attest to anyone else's feelings toward them. Just remind them that you personally love and care for them with a simple 'I love you so much' and then moving on with the conversation. I usually find myself crying along with the person.

4. Try and distract them. I'm not talking about changing the subject, but sort of subtly talk about the good times. An example:

Person A: I just can't do this anymore
Person B: I understand
Person A: Why can't things go back to the way they were when I had a wonderful life and I could go rock-climbing
Person B: Those were good times. I have an idea, how about before you leave us, we go rock climbing one last time?

This sort of reminds them that good times are still possible, and delays the act to give them more time to think about it and evaluate if this is really the approach they want to go through with.

Personally, I avoid the topic of therapy til the crisis is averted. So a couple weeks in the future, I'll mention that I'm going to therapy, and you know, invite them along to join me. My one therapist got quite used to this, where I'd bring a friend, and discuss some of my less private issues with them present, and included, so it becomes more of a group thing than personal. If done right, you can share your experiences and show the person that sometimes, therapy does work, it's just a matter of finding the right one.

Suggestions anyone?

accorind to me one of the first things you want to know as well is if the person in question has a plan knows when were and how try to get them to tell you if they do and if you susspect thaat they have a date and everything is plannd it is your responsibility at the tme to call help or refer that person to someone that could help him or her more.. You can also try to keep that person busy do things with him or her or even offer to go se a therapist with them .. explain to your friend tht you care for them and that you are there for them tell them about how you feel and tht you are worried and do not do anything behind there back so if you are goingt o get help explain to your friend why .. thy may notunderstand right away but they will .and well that's abut it that i can think of right now
hope it was of use
yours trully ashley-kate


When you check the CMHA website on suicide prevention they refer to a course for intervention that originated in Alberta.

That course is given, I am told, throughout their network of Chapters. I've enrolled here in Ottawa where it is a two day course.

Situations arise in our support work where I would like to have a clearer understanding of the dynamics of suicide in order to point the person in the right direction.
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