How To Help And Support Someone Who Attempted Suicide
October 16, 2018
Hospitalized After a Suicide Attempt
The emergency department staff is in “crisis mode” and working to make your loved one physically and mentally stable. Afterwards, providers can help create a treatment plan.
- Let personnel know if your loved one has struggled with drugs or alcohol.
- Inform them of changes to your loved one’s health or mental state.
- Tell providers about known risk factors for suicide, such as weapons in the home, an abusive relationship, or significant stressors like job loss or a breakup.
- Tell them what type of treatment and support your loved one is comfortable with.
- Tell providers if your loved one wrote a suicide note or began to give away possessions.
- Bring a list of the individual’s current medications, diagnosed health concerns, and health provider contact information.
What to Do After Hospital Discharge
Both short-term and long-term strategies can help support a suicide survivor. Soon after the attempt, provide the following for your loved one:
- Schedule counseling. Ideally, schedule the first session before your loved one is discharged from the hospital. Offer to help find a counselor, take them to their session, and even sit in the session with them, if desired.
- Create a safe space for them to talk. They may not feel like it, but make sure they know that it is safe to open up to you if they need it.
- Remove possible methods of suicide. Many suicide survivors are a risk of another attempt. Temporarily remove lethal weapons from their home or possession. You may need to control their medications for a short time.
- Create a safety plan in case of another attempt.
Long-Term Help After a Suicide Attempt
- Encourage your loved one to take care of themselves, without enabling them.
- Make sure your loved one knows you are there for them.
- Emphasize that they are not alone and not a burden.
- Get help from friends, family, counselors, and other local resources.
- Connect with others who have had similar experiences.
What NOT to Do
- Panic. Although it is normal to be alarmed, afraid, and confused, try to keep calm.
- Avoid the issue. Even if your loved one does not feel like talking, don’t pretend that nothing is wrong. Don’t be afraid to use the word “suicide.”
- Use shame, guilt, blame, or punishment. This applies to both yourself and your loved one.
- Go it alone. You should not be the only person to help care for your loved one. Besides health providers and therapists, also enlist close friends or family members.
- Neglect your own self-care. Helping a loved one who has attempted suicide can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Don’t neglect your own health.