National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month takes place every September, but it’s important to be proactive and keep the conversation about mental wellness going strong throughout the year. But if you know someone struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, approaching them about it can feel daunting.
With that in mind, Nature’s Grace and Wellness has compiled some Do’s and Don’ts to consider when sparking a conversation with someone about their mental health.
Do let them know that you’re there to listen without judgment. You’re initiating this conversation because you care about them and you’re concerned about their well-being and safety.
Don’t be afraid to be direct and ask hard questions, such as: Are you planning on harming or killing yourself or others? Do you have access to weapons in your home or elsewhere?
Do ask the person what is causing their immediate distress. Asking “what” questions, as opposed to “why” questions allows them to pinpoint the factors contributing to their situation without feeling pressured to justify their feelings.
Do be an active listener. Active listening techniques, such as asking open-ended questions, and using words of affirmation (“I see”) and non-verbal cues (nodding or leaning forward) can help build trust and improve communication.
Don’t try to diagnose or suggest treatment options.
Don’t center yourself. Many people tend to show empathy by sharing similar experiences or interjecting, but this can inadvertently take the focus away from the person in need of support.
Do remind the person that they are not alone.
Do guide the person to reputable resources and doctors, or if necessary, a hospital emergency room.
Don’t leave the person alone if there is immediate danger or the situation feels “off. Trust your intuition.
Do call 911 to request an ambulance and a Crisis Trained Officer in the event of a non-violent mental-health crisis,
Do call 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (formerly the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) as needed for 24/7 support.
Don’t be afraid to discuss your mental health. Opening up to a doctor, therapist, or a trusted friend or loved one is an act of bravery that can help us become stronger and healthier.
Do continue to be proactive and Spark the Conversation about sucide prevention.
If you or a loved one are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, please dial 988, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text TALK to 741741. If 911 is needed, ask specifically for an ambulance and for a Crisis Intervention Trained (CIT) police officer. To learn more about Nature’s Grace and Wellness, visit naturesgraceandwellness.com.
Visit https://chicagoreader.com/special/spark-the-conversation/ to read other stories in our series.