CMR News – Recent celebrity suicide deaths: Warnings and things to do if you know of someone depressed
With recent celebrity suicides, more of us are thinking about what to do if you know of someone depressed. CMR news collected some key tips on what you can do to help people we know and love who may be suffering, and I was very pleased to be included.
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If you fear that someone you know is suffering from suicidal thoughts, these are things you need to do:
- Ask about it. “The reality is anyone with a significant depression has passing thoughts of death and suicide in a simple desire to end their misery,” says licensed clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D. Instead of avoiding the topic, she recommends asking (with compassion) if things are so bad they have thought about death or ending their life. Depending on the response, Clark recommends being prepared to follow up with questions like what they’ve thought about doing and why.
- Talk about how much you love them. “Letting a loved one know how much you care about them, and offering help, can be an important lifeline in keeping them safe,” Clark says.
- Try to get them out and doing things. If they have shut down, Mayer recommends encouraging your loved one to participate in coping mechanisms that they’ve always enjoyed like taking them out for a manicure or grabbing a meal together. It’s also a good idea to try to encourage them to try new activities and experiences, Mayer says.
- Push them to seek help. “This is critical because many times an unqualified helper who says the wrong thing or does not offer any relief just makes things worse because then the suicidal person feels like no one can help them,” Mayer says. You can even do the legwork for them, researching good psychologists or asking for a referral, and actually escorting them to their appointments. If they’re reluctant to seek help, Mayer says there’s nothing wrong with saying encouragements like “Do this assessment-it’s one visit” or “Do this for your friends and loved ones.”
- Stay close. “Time alone if a person is withdrawn and suicidal allows for completion and should be avoided as much as is possible,” Clark says. Mayer recommends building a network of friends and family that continuously know where your loved one is and that they are safe. “In other words, they should be observed at all times as much as possible,” he says.
- Take them to the hospital. If it seems like your loved one has a plan and you’re worried to let them out of your sight, try to take them to the ER and wait there while they get assessed, says Myers. “Asking them to call a therapist isn’t going to help at this point,” he says. This is a major step in helping someone who is seriously considering taking their own life, Clark says.