Trigger Warning: This article discusses depression, self-harm, and suicide which may be triggering for some readers.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and here at Plymouth Psych Group, we know just how important that is. The truth is that we can ALL help to prevent suicide, not just mental health specialists. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts this is your nudge to lean into some support. It’s ok to not feel okay. You are worth getting some support, whether you believe that right now or not.
There is hope in support, in community, and in being there for one another. Here are some ways we can all make a difference:
Understand More About Depression
We all experience depression in different ways. We can’t expect someone to feel or behave as we would in the same situation. But one component is almost always present - depression lies. Depression changes the way we think and reason, and tells us we aren’t loved, aren’t worthy, or that things will never get better for us. It is this dangerous distortion in our thinking that can lead to an increase in symptoms and self-harm. Getting the support and resources to stay safe during these times is critical.
Look For Warning Signs of Depression and Suicide
Warning signs may vary, but oftentimes people may express feeling hopeless, thoughts of death or wanting to die, feeling as if they are a burden, or having no future or reason to live. As you can imagine these thoughts often lead to feelings of hopelessness, extreme sadness or anxiety, and even anger. People with suicidal ideation often share feeling as if they are trapped or overwhelmed by their problems or symptoms and feel that they have no other way out.
With these overwhelming and often persistent thoughts and feelings, you may notice some changes in the person's behavior. This could be them withdrawing socially, engaging in reckless behavior such as excessive substance use or dangerous driving, or researching and making a plan for death and the possessions they would leave behind. You may also notice changes in mood, appetite, sleep, and overall self-care.
While some signs of depression and feeling suicidal are clear, others try hard to mask their symptoms and not bring attention to themselves. Checking in and being in tune can make a great deal of difference.
Know What to Do to Help
There are a variety of ways to help someone feeling depressed and suicidal. Your approach will depend on the person, their individual needs, and how open they are to support. Below are our top 5 ways to help keep someone experiencing suicidal thoughts safe:
1. Check-In - Take a genuine interest in what the person is feeling and experiencing. You may want to be upfront and ask “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” Although it can be a tough question, it shows your awareness and concern and can open the door for honest communication.
2. Acknowledge Their Experience - Show validation of what they are feeling and experiencing. Stay away from judgements and blame which can exacerbate symptoms. Trust that this is their experience and be present with them in it.
3. Be Around - Sometimes having someone around, even if you aren't talking can be helpful. Talk and connect if you can, validate their feelings and experience. Continue to show up for them in ways that show you care even after they get care.
4. Increase Safety Measures - Reducing or removing access to lethal items such as firearms, medications, or other items that could be used to harm themselves or others can help maintain safety. Having someone they trust around them can also increase safety.
5. Connect Them With Resources:
- Call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number by dialing 988
- Escort them to emergency services
- Get them in touch with mental health specialists who offer initial and ongoing services specifically for depression such as therapy, medications, or TMS
Questions regarding mental health? Our PPG team of experts is here to help at (763) 559-1640.