Authored by Chris Berishnyi, Youth Services Crisis Counselor
Suicide… It’s a word that’s been in the news much too often lately. Almost everyone has been impacted by it and or knows someone who has attempted it, whether it’s a family member, close friend, or a classmate. Many times there is guilt associated with it, as loved ones wonder if there was anything they could have said or done that could have prevented the tragedy.
There are signs to look for that may indicate someone is contemplating suicide. Any change in a person’s behavior that makes you pause can be such a sign. Some examples of these types of behaviors are: withdrawing from friends and family, missing work and moodiness. Additionally, there are risk factors that increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts and attempts, such as depression and drug use, and a build-up of stress may act as a trigger.
Approaching someone with these concerns may be difficult for a number of reasons. One such reason is the myth that asking someone if they are thinking about suicide may give them the idea to do it, if they are not already contemplating it. In fact, talking to someone you are concerned about shows that you care and give them an opportunity to express their feelings, which they may have been holding in due to fears that nobody cares about them, or feeling that their situation is hopeless.If and when you do decide to approach someone with your concerns, be prepared to listen and not judge their feelings. On the surface, it may appear that the person has a lot to live for, but they may not see it that way due to suffering from major depression. Talk about what is important to them and worth living for. After talking to them, you can help them connected to those who can help, such as mental health professionals or clergy. There are numerous other resources as well. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention lists the following resources:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-488-TALK (8255)
- LGBT Trevor Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386
- Crisis Teen Text Line: text “LISTEN” to 741-741
- There also apps, such as MY3 and SAFEUT.
- The University Neuropsychiatric Institute’s Mobile Crisis Outreach Team (MCOT) has a warm line (801-585-0129) where you can call and talk to a State of Utah Certified Peer Specialist.
And call Salt Lake County Youth Services at 385-468-4500 and ask to speak with a crisis counselor.