What to do if someone you know says they’re going to commit suicide

by Michele Arnold on August 30, 2013 · 6 comments

in suicide

“I’m going to kill myself.”

What do you do if someone tells you he or she is going to kill themselves?
 
I didn’t know how to answer that question until I listened to a presentation by Tom Ellis, PsyD, ABPP, director of Psychology at The Menninger Clinic. 
 
I learned that first, you must remember that people thinking about taking their own lives are not thinking clearly. They’re trying to find a solution for devastating, painful, overwhelm"Rick Warren Matthew Warren suicide"ing problems, and they believe, because their brain is not physically functioning, that suicide is the answer. They have tunnel vision; they’re suffering so badly it physically hurts them; and they have zero hope. Their brain is not functioning just as people’s hearts, kidneys, knees and sciatic nerves do not function, which is why it’s ridiculous to make people feel ashamed because they have a mental health issue. Bully for Pastor Rick Warren for pointing out that lapse in logic after his son
, Matthew, took his life.
 
Second, be honored that the person in front of you talking about suicide trusts you.

From Dr. Ellis, I learned to say to them,

I’m listening. I’m here. I care about you. I’m scared. Let’s get some help.

I would add: “I’ll help you find a therapist.”

And: “I’ll drive and wait with you. I won’t leave you.”
 
I’d also add:

If you don’t like the first therapist, we’ll find one you do like. There are other solutions to your pain, and the therapist you like will help you find them. I will NOT be better off if you die. I will be worse off, and it will sadden me for the rest of my life.

Dr. Ellis said to take all suicide communication seriously. He also said it’s an act of courage for a therapist and patient to talk about suicide.
 
Life-saving therapists say things like, “Let’s talk about ways of keeping you safe without going to the hospital.” “Tell me about the pain that makes you want to die and what makes you want to live.”
 
I hope I never have to use Dr. Ellis’ wisdom, but now, at least, I feel somewhat prepared.
 
Does anyone reading this post know of any religion that sanctifies, encourages or in any way endorses taking one’s life?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Zoey July 28, 2014 at 9:21 pm

My friend cuts herself……and the other day she tried to commit suicide….I dont know if she will ever try to again but in case, i have 911 on speed dial and her address in my phone. She told me that if I’m her friend i wont tell anyone she cuts herself or has suicidal thoughts. I already told my two friends, who are also friends with her, the situation. They cant talk to my friend themselves because my friend will know i told them. But they tell me what to tell my friend. This website helped me alot and if she does write a suicide note to my friends and I, tey will occupy her while i call 911. If anyone has anymore ways i can help her please let me know!

Assuman July 25, 2014 at 9:01 pm

I would like to inform Clifford that suicide is rampant in the Christian majority west than in Muslim majority countries like Saudi Arabia, Malaysia or Qatar. In fact Islam prevents suicide because it sanctifies life and committing suicide is a grave sin Islam. So saying “Islam does all the time” is being myopic and out of context.

Charles L February 20, 2014 at 4:14 pm

“I learned that first, you must remember that people thinking about taking their own lives are not thinking clearly”

Really? Every single person considering suicide is not thinking clearly?

The hubris in this statement is appalling.

CLIFFORD January 6, 2014 at 5:48 pm

YEAH ISLAM DOES ALL THE TIME

Alexis October 13, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Thank you for sharing Rose. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ bless and protect you and your family today and always!!!

Rose September 26, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Wikipedia has some great information about suicide and religion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_on_suicide
My grandfather committed suicide and my sister attempted suicide. I also have contemplated suicide in order to rid myself of depression. However, Jesus keeps telling me not to do it and things will get better. I have to have faith in that, or I will be lost.

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