Rapmrc, I am happy for any effort to prevent suicide.
I respectfully disagree that publicly encouraging loved ones to reach out toward the suicidal lays blame at their doorstep when they are unsuccessful. We are only just barely beginning to understand how to help. But then I think blame has no place in this issue EXCEPT for negligence/carelessness, incompetence, and bullying. I also feel that many suicidal people are incapable of asking for help. My view is that suicide is not a choice but a very often fatal illness. I know many of us did everything we possibly could to help and still weren't able to. What that says to me is that we need more resources, more help, both for the suicidal and for their loved ones.
I DO agree with "targeting" the people close to the suicidal. If my son's friends knew what to do or at least had options that were publicly presented to them as acceptable courses of action, my son might still be here, because they knew about his state of mind long before I did- but I only learned that after he died. But how could I possibly hold them accountable? They didn't have a clue as to what they might do other than take it all on themselves individually, and end up feeling inadequate and falling into denial. "Friends don't let friends drink and drive" has been very successful among young people and others as well. Because of that and similar campaigns, having a designated driver is now popular and acceptable.
What if friends didn't let friends have "secret" death wishes? - Not as if that should be the actual slogan. Though on second thought... But something targeted at both the suicidal and those who care for them that would de-stigmatize talking about it. Suicide and suicidal thoughts should not be secrets. They are far too prevalent and dangerous. Another message to get out there, as bluntly as possible. PEOPLE ARE DYING.
But my main point is that we need MORE RESOURCES. To me the stated goal of your campaign needs to go further. A loving friend or family member is not enough to prevent a death from suicide. This needs to be a community issue, as far-fetched as that may sound. Someone can't be the "ONE" to save someone. It may start with one but it takes more than one.
Yes people do need to reach out and Talk, and Ask, and Listen, And take Action.
But what are those actions? This is what we all need to know.
Here are some actions off the top of my head:
Get support in supporting someone you love. You can't do it alone.
Call a crisis line, with the suicidal person, or without them, or both. Encourage the suicidal person to call a crisis line and make sure they have the # at all times. If you are supporting someone who is suicidal, YOU are in crisis too. Call and get support and ideas.
Involve professionals, but don't hand it over. Monitor the treatment plan. Stay involved. Get other opinions. Be a willing ear for how the treated person feels about it. Don't ever discount their feelings. Don't stand for being excluded by a professional when you've been asked for help and the person is still suicidal.
If you are the main source of support, how about going to joint therapy sessions, to brainstorm and learn how to effectively help the person. You may be able to hear their needs better, as well as express your own. It also let's the person you care for know that you are in this together.
Get group support. Groups are powerful and there ought to be twelve step groups for the suicidal and for those who support them. I think that 12 steps have a great format that is tried and true, and other types of support groups should be in existence
for suicidality as well.
Don't just keep it in the family. De-stigmatize, reach out to friends too. But friends need to be able to contact family, if family hasn't been contacted. And EVERYONE NEEDS EDUCATION. You cannot bully someone into staying alive, for example.
Suicide has many causes. I believe it is generally a compilation of many factors and pains that lead to an extreme narrowing of focus. Learn how to help widen the focus.
GET BLOODWORK. MANY TIMES THERE MAY BE AN UNDERLYING PHYSICAL SITUATION. Not enough B12, for example. Low sodium for another. Blood sugar issues. Thyroid, inadequate oxygen, etc. etc.
ADDRESS SLEEP ISSUES SERIOUSLY. I have read several times of people dying of suicide after severe sleep deprivation.
Address any stated addictions very seriously.
Marijuana use can be extremely dangerous to someone who is imbalanced. It is not a cure-all and it can be addictive, contrary to popular belief and it's sudden prevalence on many TV shows (is it about to go corporate?).
If physical pain is a contributing factor, learn how to resource pain management groups and techniques.
Find good sources of ONLINE support.
Bring the beauty and healing of nature and the kindness of others into the forefront. Encourage tolerance, openness and compassion for those among us who suffer.
We are only at the very beginning of learning how to help others help themselves to stay alive. Progress has been made with other diseases. Progress will be made with this one too. Thank you for doing something. Thank you so much.
I did everything I was able to save my son. It was not enough. I did not have enough help. And sometimes he desperately wanted help, and sometimes he pushed it away. The one thing I do know is that by myself and even with the help of so-called professionals, I was not enough. My son told me so, as kindly as he could. He needed more than I could provide. He knew it and I knew it, but the resources weren't there. He had already lost himself, and then I lost him too. One lifeline is not enough. A suicidal person needs several.
Hindsight being the great teacher, after all.