One of the hardest things to hear is a friend who talks about committing suicide. It’s heartbreaking and tough to deal with but given the alternative, it’s much better to have that difficult conversation than to not have it at all and face the fatal consequence. Take it as a bitter pill to swallow so long as you can prevent suicide.

As we celebrated World Suicide Prevention Day, we become more aware of how depression does not discriminate and can snatch away the lives of just about anyone. We can all do something to overcome this mental illness and prevent suicide. Here are just some of the ways you can save someone who has suicidal thoughts:

1. Recognize the Warning Signs

Prevent suicide by identifying its telltale signs such as withdrawal from people or isolation.

Opening up about suicidal thoughts is far from easy so the key is knowing how to read the red flags. There are many ways to tell when someone has suicidal tendencies. Some of the warning signs include isolation from family and friends, anxiety or agitation, extreme self-loathing thoughts, hopelessness, rage and irritability, loss of interest in former hobbies, and risk-taking behavior.

2. Listen and Speak From the Heart

Prevent suicide by showing that you care and speaking from the heart.

Sometimes, all a person needs is for someone to talk to and listen to them. When a suicidal person reaches out to you, be there for them by taking the time to listen. It won’t be comfortable, but allow them to vent out their feelings of pain, anger, and loneliness. Show that you care by carrying on an honest conversation.

3. Be Guided On Your Response

Prevent suicide by carrying on the conversation and having a guided response.

The last thing you’d want to do is to criticize or judge. Keep an open mind and try to be patient and accepting. Follow the QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer) method for dealing with suicidal persons. Or follow these steps to prevent suicide:

Engage: Carry on with the conversation and connect with the person by looking eye-to-eye.

Explore: Look into their situation from their point of view.

Identify: Don’t be afraid to ask directly if the person is contemplating suicide.

Inquire: If the person is indeed suicidal, dig deeper by asking more questions such as the reasons that led to their suicidal thoughts.

Assess: Ask closed questions or questions that are answerable by yes or no.

4. Keep Company

Prevent suicide by keeping company and not letting the person on their own.

It’s not enough that you tell a suicidal person that he/she is not alone. Prove this literally by physically keeping the person company. If you can’t do so, check with them regularly or reach out to the person’s family members and friends so they can stay with the person. Be mindful not to let a suicidal person on their own.

5. Seek Professional Help

Prevent suicide by calling professional help as necessary.

If you think the person is in grave danger of committing suicide, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. The Department of Health (DOH), with the help of the World Health Organization (WHO), and Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (NGF) launched in 2016 the Hopeline project, a phone-based crisis 24/7 hotline.

Prevent suicide by reaching Hopeline at these numbers: (02) 804-4673; 0917-5584673; and 2919 for Globe and TM subscribers.

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