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How to Talk to a Loved One About Suicide

Sep 28 2018
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September is National Suicide Prevention Month

The statistics for suicide in America are disturbingly high. It is tragic not only for the one whose life is cut short, but also for those loved ones left behind after a death.

On average, 750,000 people a year are directly impacted by the suicide of a loved one. For many, these effects continue for years, even a lifetime.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. To help raise awareness for mental health, Mercy Health Behavioral Health’s Dr. Laurie Ballew explains the warning signs and offers tips on what you can do to help.

“There’s no single cause for suicide,” Dr. Ballew said. “Conditions like depression, anxiety, substance problems, physical illness, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, losing a loved one, financial burdens, even physical illness can all increase the risk for suicide. The overriding symptom is hopelessness. People see no light at the end of the tunnel.”

Dr. Ballew says suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs.

Common suicide warning signs

  • Talking about wanting to die or killing oneself
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling like there is no reason to live
  • Being in unbearable pain
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Giving away possessions
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated

Talking to a friend or family member about suicidal thoughts can be difficult. Dr. Ballew says giving the person a chance to express his or her feelings can provide some relief from their negative feelings.

“You could start the conversation with, ‘I have been worried about you lately and have noticed some changes in your behavior; you don’t seem like yourself lately,’” adds Dr. Ballew. “Let them open up about their day. Things can come out when you talk.”

Questions you can ask someone who may have suicidal thoughts

  • When did you begin feeling like this?
  • What happened that made you start feeling this way?
  • How can I best support you right now?
  • Have you thought about getting help?

We know that when a crisis hits, you don’t always have extra time to research or react. That’s why the Mercy Health behavioral health crisis line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just call (877)-219-2708 to receive help.


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5 Comments

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DENISE

Do you have classes for family or friends of loved ones
September 28th, 2018 | 12:44pm

Mercy Health

Hi Denise, thanks for reaching out. We don't have any upcoming group classes for this topic, however we do offer various counseling options. You can use our Find a Doctor tab on mercy.com to find someone near you.
October 01st, 2018 | 8:26am

MaryAnn Miller

What happens when you call the hotline
October 05th, 2018 | 4:00pm

Mercy Health

Hi MaryAnn, thanks for reaching out. You will be connected with someone who can walk you through your situation and make suggestions, where appropriate.
October 08th, 2018 | 7:59am

Janet

Part of Mercy for a long time and was not aware of the 24/7 behavioral health crisis line. Most appreciated the information in this article, Simple, straight forward information here. Finding all the articles., including the current discussion of opioid crisis, very informative. Know that the whole discussion is not that simple, but good food for thought in wrapping your head around this health crisis.
October 11th, 2018 | 11:28am

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