assisting a companion who is homicidal

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Problem from the Reader

I recently received my philosophy degree, and a really close friend of mine suffers from suicidal thoughts, self-harm. I feel obligated to assist him, but he continues to refuse, thinking that nothing can be done to stop him. I once believed that depressed people frequently refused assistance, so I may only give it my all. We merely communicate via text on a daily basis. We don’t frequently meet, we never talk on the phone, and occasionally, even when we have ideas, he abruptly cancels them. The fact remains that maintaining his trust is essential because it is the only man he confides in. How do I proceed? Should I try to assist him in another way or if I simply give him some room?

Response from a psychologist

It can be difficult to feel helpless and powerless when people close to you is dealing with suicidal thoughts and despair. You have, nevertheless, now taken the first step toward assisting and changing the world by noticing. Sometimes it can have a huge and positive impact just to notice and express issue. Many people are familiar with someone who suffers from depression, and some may even be acquainted with a suicidal attempt or finish. Every year, more than 30,000 Americans commit murder, and about 800,000 make an attempt. Although it’s a quite prevalent issue, the stigma associated with it prevents us from speaking up about it, which is what we should be doing to support.

One proactive measure that I have observed helps some of my depressive clients is talking about death. But I frequently hear people question,” Didn’t it just promote it if I talk about it?” Will it not only offer them an idea? The answer is no, definitely no. The depressive person may actually relieve anxiety and feel connected to encouraging people like you by discussing the emotional content surrounding suicide, such as depression and hopelessness. Don’t let that prevent you; it’s not always a pleasant chat. It’s acceptable to be clear if you have a sneaking suspicion that someone is considering it. The information that it’s not OK to talk about it can be conveyed by skirting the subject or beating around the tree. You could just state,” With the pain you’re in, I was wondering if you might have thought about hurting yourself ,” If the response is” yes ,” you might want to find out if they have any specific plans or ways in mind for how they would go about doing it. Suicidal persons may have made strategies or taken actions to harm themselves after seriously considering it. When you know they intend to do something like remove artillery or pill hideouts, working with them to restrict their exposure to their strategies is simpler. The answer isn’t to ignore it and only hope it will go ahead. Don’t let the ease or issues deter you from asking. It’s a good idea to ask because it demonstrates your attention.

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Notably, friends should never consent to keeping suicidal thoughts a secret. Concealment forbids people from discussing it. It’s acceptable to talk to them about who to speak with and who not to. Speaking with some folks who may not be very encouraging can really make one feel more sad and alone. However, we must continue their conversation, and keeping it a secret just stops that.

How frequently people are willing to discuss it surprises you. The majority of suicidal people don’t want their lives to finish; instead, they want to find solace and get away from their suffering. That reduction can be obtained by talking about it. It might be simpler than you think to continue the conversation once you get them talking.

The next step in helping is really quite simple: simply keep calm and pay attention. The majority of my suicidal customers claim that when they feel like they have been heard, they frequently temporarily feel better. Do not believe that you must address or resolve their issues. Many people are now aware of what they must do to improve their mood. To do it, they simply need encouragement and support. Their desire to find solutions is frequently stifled by despair. They may be able to make progress toward treatment with your help and encouragement.

Getting the depressive person to the support they require is where you can be more direct in your assistance. The next crucial step can be to assist them in locating resources like death problems lines, treatments, psychiatrists, and hospitals.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is available 24 / 7 and is free, confidential, and available at 1 – 800 273 TALK( 8255 ), is one source. If speaking to someone makes you uncomfortable, there are even online crisis centers and crisis action via Skype or text.

If you want to learn more about death and those who contemplate it, please read my article on myths surrounding death.

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One or more scientific psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals peer review all of the medical content on this website. Initially released by Dr. Peter Thomas, PhD on, and most recently reviewed or updated by Managing Editor onDr. Greg Mulhauser.

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