How To Help A Friend With Suicidal Thoughts

Hi welcome to Hero TV I’m Dr. Paul Jenkins. If you found this video chances are you’ve got a friend or a loved one who is having a really hard time right now. Stick with me for a few minutes as I share with you some ideas about how to help your friend who has some suicidal thoughts. There are some topics that are really hard to talk about. Suicide is obviously one of those. Probably are aware of some concerns about people, friends, loved ones who might be suicidal. Perhaps you’ve had some of those thoughts yourself. I’m glad you’re here because this is something we can talk about. I have a friend who is an undertaker. I thought that was an old-west term, right? Because we talk about funeral directors or morticians. He’s an undertaker. He loves that term because it’s such a huge undertaking to do his job. He shared with me this profound truth. He said, talking about death won’t kill you. Okay nice. Because we’re talking about suicide today one of the most disturbing troubling topics. Did you know that suicide is one of the leading causes of death now? Especially among young people. This is something that has become almost epidemic in our society and it touches all of us. You can probably think of people in your own life where this has been an issue. so can we talk about suicide? We absolutely can. and I think that’s the the first thing that I want to emphasize is something that we can talk about. Now as suicidal thoughts, suicidal feelings are extremely common and I think the first thing that we could acknowledge here is that most people who experience suicidal thoughts or feelings do not take their own lives. Most do not. Now, some do. So we want to take it very seriously when this comes up. Sometimes you’ll wonder if someone that you love is experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings. It’s okay to ask. In fact, let’s talk about three different steps that we can take to support our loved ones who might be having suicidal thoughts. Number one, ask good question. Okay? It’s okay. For example, if you’re wondering if someone is at risk, if you’ve got some inclination that there’s something going on it’s okay to say something like this, hey I’ve been noticing that things have been hard for you lately have you had thoughts about hurting yourself or maybe taking your own life? Okay, now it sounds weird to just put that out there. Some people are afraid to say it because they don’t want to put the idea into someone’s head, right? Don’t worry about that, you won’t. What you’re really doing is putting them on notice that you’re a safe person with whom that they could talk about this and talking about it is one of the best things that you can do to wrap your head around what some of the solutions could be. So the other thing about asking good questions, ask open-ended questions that allow people to talk and share what they’re thinking or feeling. So instead of saying, are you feeling this or that, which could close them down and just do a yes-or-no answer, open it up by saying tell me about how you’ve been feeling. Help me to understand that. What is going wrong for you right now? Tell me about your life. See these kinds of questions, some of them aren’t even questions they’re instructions, did you get that? you want to open up the possibility for them to share whatever it is they’re thinking. Now this leads us right into step two. It’s important to be a good listener.

Now the word listen includes the same letters as the word silent. Alright let’s take that as a clue because you probably want to make sure that you’re, you’re listening more than you’re talking at this point. I don’t want you to be in a position where you feel like you have to give them advice and I’ll give you some ideas about where to go with that in just a minute. But you, you mostly want to just open that up so that they can talk. So you want to be a good listener. As you’re listening, show them that you’re listening. So your body language, using appropriate eye contact. Not the kung fu panda stare down i’m just talking about a comfortable eye contact that shows them that you’re tracking them, nodding your head, little verbals like, oh uh huh I see. Whatever’s natural for you but you’re showing them that you’re tracking them that you’re following what they’re saying and then occasionally throwing in a little summary that sounds something like, oh I see so what you’re saying is and then you repeat back to them what you understood from them. This is very validating and it gives people a sense of importance and that you’re listening to them. So that in itself helps a lot of people. To get through some of the, the crisis points of suicidal thoughts and feelings. Now let’s go to the third point because you’re not necessarily, some of you maybe, but you’re not necessarily a professional who’s trained in crisis intervention or assisting people from a clinical standpoint. Usually, if people are experiencing suicidal thoughts or having suicidal feelings they could use some help. And I’m talking about professional health. I’m talking about ecclesiastical help. Possibly crisis intervention or intensive treatment. Sometimes that’s appropriate. You don’t have to be in the position as a family member or a friend to figure all of that out but keeping that in mind yourself as you’re talking to them, the third step is to open up the possibility or make the invitation for them to receive additional help. One of the ways to do this is to offer to do that with them. For example, you might say something like, thank you for opening up with me I’m so glad to be on your team perhaps we could call together the crisis line to see what other kinds of resources are available that might be helpful. Now, whatever wording feels most natural and comfortable to you is fine. The main thing is to introduce to them the idea and your encouragement of them receiving additional services. There’s a lot of ways to do that. Now different places have different services and resources available. You can do a little research if you’re, if you’re thinking about this right now just spend the next few minutes after you watch the video doing a little search about the kinds of resources that are available in your community that would be readily available to you so that that’s fresh in your mind. You’ve got your toolbox ready to go when you have a conversation with someone who’s having a hard time. So in a quick summary, you want to ask good questions. Don’t be afraid of the issue, it won’t kill you to talk about death. Open up that possibility for that conversation through good questions. Second, become an excellent listener. Where you give them the nonverbal cues that you’re following them, you, you help them to feel important by showing that you understand that you’re there that you’re willing to listen. That in itself is a powerful intervention. And third, you invite and help them get to connected to the appropriate resources for follow-up and for additional possibly professional help to assist with this problem. You’ve got this.

Being a good friend is the main thing. Show them a lot of love and empathy and be there to support them. Alright thanks so much for your insights in this video Paul. Really really helpful. We’re going to put some helpful links in the description below and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, leave a comment below as well and we’ll help you out there. If you know somebody else who had value from watching this video be sure to share it with them. And remember to live on purpose, make a difference and be to be the hero!

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