#I am stigma free #suicide prevention. These are the hashtags for social media posts about suicide prevention. But what does stigma free mean? And how do we help make sure that our family members know that we are stigma free and are open to discussing suicidal thoughts and intentions.
These days, assessing for suicide is a regular part of my job and I commonly find that people who are depressed have suicidal thoughts . Most people do not realize that talking openly about suicide is one of the most important methods for prevention. Giving people a message that they can talk openly about feelings of depression and thoughts of suicide is the best way you can help your family members and friends prevent suicide in the future. Here are some tips for being #stigma free:
- Often people who are having suicidal thoughts are having problems in some of their relationships. They feel isolated. If you notice a friend or family member is isolated, try to reach out to them and be persistent. Tell them you have noticed they seem down and you are open to listening to whatever their concerns are without giving them any advice.
- Ask openly, “I just want to make sure you are okay since you seem down lately. I don’t want to offend you but I care about you. Are you had thoughts of hurting yourself? Have you had thoughts of death by suicide?” Most of the time people will say no, but if they say yes, you may be the only person who openly asked the question and can provide support. Even if they say no, you have now shown that you are #stigma free and they can come to you in the future if they are having suicidal thoughts.
- Stay calm. If one of your friends or a family member does say they are having thoughts of feeling suicidal, you can simply help get them to a doctor or help them to call a suicide hotline who can help assess how serious it is. You are not expected to be a therapist or a doctor, you are a friend or family member and your only job is to get your loved one some help. If they will not get help, you can call 911 and tell the responding officer that you are concerned about suicide and your friend will then be required to get an evaluation. This is not an easy thing to do, but I can tell you that more than one person has later thanked me after requiring a suicide evaluation for saving their life.
I hope these tips are helpful, and remember according to NAMI “One conversation can change a life.” You can have those conversations in your life with family members and encourage you to do so. If you have more questions, please Contact Me for support and assistance.