Jane Heady who oversees our Safe Haven service in Epsom wrote:
“If you think that someone you know is thinking about ending their life, it’s natural to feel concerned, especially if it’s someone you love. You may even want to avoid thinking about it. However, there are a number of practical things you can do to help.
1. Let them know you are concerned
Tell them that you are concerned, and that you are there to help – sometimes, hearing the words back is important.
Ask if they are thinking about suicide and if they have made any plans.
Know that talking about suicide will not make someone take action – you might be the first person they’ve ever told and this can be an enormous relief for them. Asking also shows that you care and allows them to talk about their feelings and plans – the first step to getting help.
2. Take action to get help now
Tell them that there are other options than suicide.
Please don’t agree to keep their suicidal thoughts or plans a secret.
Don’t assume anything – don’t think they will get better without help or that they will seek help on their own. They may need support with this.
3. Encourage them to get professional help
Help them to make an appointment with a GP and try to help them find someone to go along with them, if that would help.
Get them to a place of safety, such as the Safe Haven network. They will have the opportunity to talk to a Mental Health professional, and experience somewhere they can go that’s friendly and not a hospital environment.
Contact a family member or friend, although only if they want to.
Find out whether they have could get support, such as counselling through an employer.
Contact a specialist helpline for information and advice.
Let them know about organisations that can help them with debt, bereavement, specialist counselling, support with addictions.
4. If they have made a plan to end their life
Check if they are able to carry out this plan. Do they have a time, place or method?
Remove access to objects they could use to hurt themselves.
Contact the crisis team at your local hospital.
Call 999 and let them know that them the person is suicidal, has made a plan, and you fear for their safety.
5. Take care of yourself
Please note that it’s very emotionally demanding to support someone who is suicidal. It’s really important to have someone to talk things over with, like your family, friends or a helpline.
At the Safe Haven, we work for a supportive employer in MFT, who values the work we do and gives us the opportunity to reflect on difficult situations, through reflective practice, regular supervisions and a listening ear when we need it.
6. There is always hope
I have met many people who have felt that their only option was suicide. Happily, through the Safe Haven and in the community, I have met them again, in the weeks, months and years that follow and often when they’ve received support through the community mental health team, things are much brighter for them. They may also have sorted out some social issues, such as homelessness, debt, addiction or sought support with some past trauma through counselling. It’s good to talk.”
Find out more about our Safe Haven service and how we can help.
Self-care tips for looking after your mental health in a pandemic
If you know someone who is feeling suicidal or very low especially during the pandemic, tell them there are practical, simple things they can do to look after their mental health:
- Set some limits on media consumption, including social media, local or national news.
- Stay active. Go out, walk, run, kick a ball, dance in your bedroom.
- Make sure to get enough sleep and rest.
- Stay hydrated and avoid excessive amounts of caffeine or alcohol.
- Eat healthy foods when possible.
- Connect with loved ones and others who may be experiencing stress about the outbreak. Talk about your feelings and make sure you enjoy conversation unrelated to the outbreak.
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