In Chicago there is a patient-run advocacy and support group called National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association.
Here is a list of recommendations they make to family members and friends who believe that someone they know is in danger of committing suicide.
- Take them seriously.
- Stay calm but don’t underreact. (?)
- Involve other people. Don’t jeopardize your own health or safety. Call Emergency services if necessary.
- Contact the person’s psychiatrist, therapist, crisis intervention team or others who are trained to help.
- Express concern. Give concrete examples of what leads you to believe your friend/family member is close to suicide.
- Listen attentively. Maintain eye contact. Use body language such as moving close to the person or holding his hand if it is appropriate.
- Ask direct questions. Find out if they have a specific plan for suicide. If possible determine the method they have in mind.
- Acknowledge the person’s feelings. Be empathetic, not judgmental. Do not relieve the person of responsibility for his/her actions.
- Stress that suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems. Remind them that there is help and things will get better.
- Don’t promise confidentiality. You may need to speak to their doctor.
- If possible don’t leave the person alone until you are sure they are in the hands of competent professionals.
I was a lay-person when it came to psychiatric illnesses. I wish I would have been treated as one by the psychiatrists and the GP. I was afraid. I was sad as a result of my empathy for him. I could not think straight. I was recovering from the manic phase of his illness. I was in pieces.
I wish I had had a chance to say good bye and tell him how much I loved him. I wish I could know in my heart and say that I did everything I could to help him.
I love you my darling. xxx