This is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week — Be aware and reach out.
And while you may never have talked with someone who’s considering suicide, it’s likely you will at some point. Just as we need to refresh our CPR skills periodically, it’s important to refresh skills to talk to someone suicidal. It’s easy to brush off the risk as something dramatic like someone preparing to jump off a bridge. But the truth is, the guy in the next cubicle or the doctor you work with or a lady you see crying in the restroom — any of them could be struggling with suicidal thoughts.
How often have you heard people say, “he had everything to live for,” or “he seemed like such a happy guy” or “she was so much fun.” Everyone’s baffled. And yet, obviously, it wasn’t all what it seemed. But maybe nobody asked.
Most of the time, when someone reaches the point of considering suicide, it happens somewhat quietly. Thoughts of death and dying begin to creep into and then crowd their thoughts, but if you don’t ask, they may carry through on their thoughts without giving away their plans.
You have to ask.
Because, truth be told, we want to prevent suicide, don’t we? I know there are those who say that a person has the right to decide when he wants his life to end. But it’s a fallacy to assume that. Because those who have the clarity to make such a decision rationally, are the exception — not the rule.
In most cases, suicide attempts and completed suicides are the result of a desperate desire to “not live like this anymore.” It’s the result of desolate misery and finding no other option.
But there ARE options. For most people, if you can give them a way to live that’s joyful, productive, and rewarding without the incessant pain they endure, they would opt-out of death and choose a life that’s enjoyable and full of hope.
And it’s for that reason we want to prevent suicide.
To give this suffering person a chance to live well. In a moment we’ll talk more about that. But for now, let’s focus on how to prevent a useless tragedy.
So what can you do?
Be AWARE that there are hurting people around you. We all have busy lives and plenty of pressures, and it’s easy to be absorbed in our own pressures and worries and completely miss the guy we talk to every day who has actually reached the end of his endurance.
So develop the habit of asking.
Ask the people in your world how they’re doing, and listen to their response. Pay attention and show them that it really matters to you. This is paramount and is the primary way to find out if someone who crosses your path needs your help. Convey that you mean it.
“How you doing, Jack? No…I mean really. How are you doing?”
When you show that you’re not impatiently trying to give the expected greeting so they’ll disappear, but that you do truly care deeply how they are, you’re more likely to get real answers.
And little by little, you’ll become known as someone who really cares, and someone a person could actually talk to. Which is why you want to talk to someone suicidal, because your caring could possibly be life saving for them.
Understand that a person who is this depressed, or this desperate, has probably become isolated. And that’s a very lonely place.
To break that isolation, reach into it and show you care. One of the most powerful things you can do to prevent suicide is to be a friend to someone who’s isolated. Listen to them, spend time with them. BREAK the isolation.
Feeling utterly alone in the world is part and parcel to the anatomy of suicidal thoughts. And remember, you can be utterly alone in a crowded room.
Make Them Safe
So what do you do if you talk to someone suicidal..? Start by removing weapons from their environment, if you can. Remove knives from the kitchen, guns from their house, maybe even the car keys. And don’t leave them alone. Find a friend or relative they trust to stay with them. Help to make their living environment a safe place.
Also, do all you can to remove medications and alcohol from their household. Your purpose is not to control their life, but to provide safety while you find a way to give them hope.
Then tell someone. One of their friends or family. Someone you can trust who will be with them, help them feel understood and supported.
And talk with them about treatment. About someone who can help them weather this storm and find new hope and new options to help them live.
This is why you talk to someone suicidal.
Help them find it. Give them some good ideas for professional therapists. Because their life is more important than their crisis. It really can get better.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Especially with the help of ketamine. Know that ketamine treatment can erase suicidal thoughts in a few hours…or even less. That those horrific thoughts and images can be eradicated with the astounding effects of ketamine treatment.
And that amazing benefit can give them the chance at life they wish they had had before…and give them the opportunity to find relief, restoration, and remission from depression and suicidal thinking.
So there may very well be a solution. But how will they know unless you talk to someone suicidal and tell them? Suicidal thoughts are not limited by age, income, or any demographic. Children are susceptible, doctors and nurses are, investors and teachers are, your co-workers are.
There is an alarming increase in suicide among doctors. No one is immune. So reach out and talk. And listen.
At Innovative Psychiatry, we take suicidal thoughts very seriously. We offer ketamine treatment for suicidal thoughts and are thrilled to see the freedom from torment ketamine can provide. Someone whose life is at risk — high risk — because their thoughts are bombarded with death, dying, and ending their own lives, can walk out of our office relieved, hopeful, and grateful that those thoughts are gone.
Ketamine treatment can be transformative, not just for suicidal thinking but also for the symptoms of depression, despair, substance use disorders including alcohol, PTSD, and anxiety. We share the joy of our patients as they walk out with hope and in remission.
Not always, of course, and not everyone. Ketamine treatment is not a cure-all for everyone. No treatment is.
But is may be what helps you when nothing else has. It may be what finally puts your symptoms into remission. If you yearn for the benefits ketamine can provide, call us.
We want to see you enjoying your life with hope and freedom from torment. Life can be rewarding and productive for you. Relationships can be strong and fulfilling.
Reach out for hope. We’re here to help.
To the restoration of your best self,
Lori Calabrese, M.D.