Restorations Therapy Blog

How to Help When Someone Is Contemplating Suicide

by on Friday, August 20th, 2021

Depression is a common mental illness that, in its most severe forms, can and often does lead to someone contemplating or even committing suicide. Those rates are climbing, making suicide one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

Over the past two decades, suicide rates have increased across the U.S., and dramatically so in half of all U.S. states — by more than 30 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If those numbers weren’t stark enough, the CDC says that every year, millions of people think about, make a plan, and/or attempt suicide. For every death due to suicide, there are another 15-20 reported suicide attempts.

What Leads Someone to Suicide?

The CDC says that 54% of people who commit suicide did not have a known or diagnosed mental health condition at the time of their death. That said, while mental health conditions are often seen as the cause of suicide, it’s important to understand that suicide is rarely caused by a single factor; it’s usually two or more factors. 

Perhaps someone suffers from depression but is also struggling with the loss of a spouse or partner, either because of death or a split. That could lead them to suicidal ideations. Other issues that could contribute to someone contemplating suicide might include the death of a child, loss of a job, relationship issues, substance abuse, health concerns, financial worries, housing issues, or legal problems.   

Has the Pandemic Caused More Suicides?

Amazingly enough, with all the loss of human life, jobs, and housing, coupled with the stress, anxiety, and depression brought on by COVID-19, the Journal of the American Medical Association said in a recent study that the suicide rate in the United States between March and August 2020 decreased by nine percent. That said, calls to mental health clinics, therapists, treatment centers, suicide hotlines, and other places that offer help to people who are struggling emotionally increased dramatically — in some cases quadrupling.  

Those calls were often from people concerned about the emotional and/or physical safety of a family member or loved one who they believed might be in a crisis. Because so many families were quarantining together, they were more clearly able to see firsthand if someone’s moods were shifting or going downhill. 

Knowing the Difference Between Depression and Having the Blues

It can be hard to tell the difference between someone suffering from depression as a mental illness and someone experiencing temporary, depression-like symptoms.  The difference can best be described this way: depression as a mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s feelings, thoughts, behavior, and/or mood. 

It also lasts longer than a few days or weeks and is much deeper than someone having the blues or being down in the dumps. In other words, there is a difference between depression due to temporary situations and depression that someone struggles with regularly. There’s also a difference between depression as a mental illness and other forms of mental illness. 

Tips for Helping Someone Who Is Depressed and May Be Considering Suicide

There are several things we can do to help someone if we’re concerned about them considering suicide:

  • Reach out to people. The pandemic has been isolating for nearly everyone to one degree or another, but there are ways to remain in contact with people even if it can’t be in person. Phone calls or texts are nice, but there are also many ways to video chat with people, such as Skype, Facetime, Google Duo, Facebook Messenger, Zoom, and Google Hangouts. There’s nothing quite like seeing someone’s friendly face, even if it’s not in person. Limit the isolation in the best ways possible. 
  • Ask how they’re doing and if they’re thinking about suicide. Research shows that people who are having suicidal thoughts find some relief when people ask about them in a caring and compassionate way. 
  • Don’t be afraid to mention suicide or depression. We’re often hesitant to talk about depression with people, or even use the word suicide, thinking that if it’s mentioned, they may put the idea in someone’s head. However, it can be more relieving to know there’s someone comfortable talking about it. Just be direct and honest about trying to help them.
  • Be there for them. People are less likely to feel depressed or suicidal, less overwhelmed, and less hopeless if they’re talking to someone who listens with compassion and without judgment.
  • Follow-up. Stay in touch with someone after they’ve experienced a crisis or they’ve been discharged from care. Studies indicate that the number of suicides goes down if someone follows up with an at-risk person after the crisis has passed.
  • Help loved ones stay connected with resources. Helping somebody at risk create a network of resources can help them take positive action and reduce their feelings of hopelessness.

There are few things worse than feeling hopeless and believing that there is no way out of a current situation. During those moments, it’s important to talk to someone who can be a sounding board for what is currently going on and can offer some reassurance that things get better with time and professional assistance. If you or someone you know is depressed and possibly contemplating suicide, it’s essential to talk to someone about it and seek professional help. At Restorations Therapy, we have professional counselors available to help you and your loved one learn to manage their depression. People often feel more distressed and anxious on weekends, holidays, or in the middle of the night. At Restorations Therapy, we will help you develop a personalized care plan that is tailored specifically for you or your loved one’s needs. Call us at (720) 446-6585 to see how we can help you.

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