A lot of the research indicates that talking about one’s suicidal thoughts can be are relief to a suicidal person. It gives them a chance to talk about their problems and put them in a space where they feel like somebody cares for them.
Another thing that we know is that although we know that health services play an important role in helping people at risk, research indicates that many people who die by suicide are not in contact with a health service in the month before their death.
So, in terms of the discussion, what they speak about is that it’s important to know that everyone of us is likely to have a close contact with someone who is suicidal. It’s important for us to get to a point where we feel comfortable talking about these things. They talk about a very simple three step process.
1. Talk to someone, directly, about their suicidal thoughts and intentions in regards to suicide.
The important thing when you’re asking these questions is to avoid leading in judgemental ways. Using statements like, “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” Or, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” With the aim that, hopefully, asking someone about their suicidal thoughts will allow them the chance to talk about their problems and show them that somebody cares.
It’s ok if you feel a bit nervous, it is a really hard thing to talk about. Ask questions that open with, “Are you…” instead of saying things like, “You’re not thinking about doing something stupid…” By having the conversation at all you will help them feel better.
2. When you listen to someone’s response, do it without that judgement.
You let them talk about why they want to die, and this can cause relief. Don’t try to convince a person that suicide is wrong, or tell them that it will hurt people if they die, because this can really shut down communication and the opportunity for the person to get support.
3. Really emphasize to the person at risk that you, as an individual, care and want to help them.
Ask them how they would like to be supported. Is there anything that you can do to help?