5 Suicide Prevention Resources To Use If You Or Someone You Know May Be At Risk
The news about suicide this past week can be triggering for people who live with depression, or those who have lost loved ones to suicide. But you don't have to go through it alone: there are suicide prevention resources that can be used if you or someone you know may be at risk for suicide. "Suicide hotlines are available 24/7, psychiatric emergency rooms are available, and friends and family are here to help," Dr. Bradley Gaynes, professor and associate chair of research training and education in the department of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, tells Bustle.
Depression is widely misunderstood and stigmatized, which can leave people who live with the mental illness feeling isolated, alone, and hopeless. However, it's important to know that no matter how alone you feel, there is help available. If you're not struggling, but you see a friend, loved one, or even a stranger who needs help, and you're not sure how to offer support, you can take a free mental health first aid class through Mental Health First Aid USA.
Additionally, Dr. Gaynes says you can let your friends and loved ones know that you are there for them. "It’s important to validate that [you] appreciate the depth and intensity of the person’s feelings, and can assist the person to find help. [You] should NOT tell them the problem is not important, that they are being too dramatic about it." If you or someone who you know is struggling, and you feel that you or someone else may be at risk for suicide, here's how to get help right now.
1. Talk To Someone You Trust & Make A Safety Plan
Even if you feel hopeless right now, Dr. Gaynes notes that these feelings are not permanent, which is why it's important to tell someone you trust how you are feeling in the present. "A key point is not to manage these thoughts alone — seek help and support," he says. If you don't feel like you can talk to a friend or loved one, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or send a message to Crisis Text Line.
Additionally, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's #BeThe1To program recommends making a safety plan with a friend. "A safety plan is designed so that you can start at step one and continue through the steps until you feel safe. You should keep your plan in a place where you can easily access it (your wallet or cell phone) when you have thoughts of hurting yourself," the program explained on The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's website.
You can download a safety-plan template so you have resources in place. One of the first steps is identifying your feelings. "What sorts of thoughts, images, moods, situations, and behaviors indicate to you that a crisis may be developing? Write these down in your own words," the program advised. If you're overwhelmed and feel like you need more help right now, call 911 or go to the emergency room. Remember, depression is a health condition, and just as with physical illness, there are resources to help you.
2. Call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you can reach them by calling 1-800-273-8255. The lifeline provides free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention, and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, the organization's website noted. You can also call the lifeline if someone you know is at risk for suicide.
3. Use The Crisis Text Line
If you don't want to or are unable to talk, but you're still seeking support, you can utilize the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. "A live, trained crisis counselor receives the text and responds, all from our secure online platform," the Crisis Text Line said on its website. You don't have to wait until you are in crisis or suicidal to seek help from the text line.
"First, you’re in crisis. That doesn’t just mean suicide: it’s any painful emotion for which you need support." When you send a message to the text line, you'll receive two automated messaged letting you know that you're being connected to a trained volunteer, which usually takes less than five minutes. The volunteer is there to listen and offer you a safe space to share your feelings.
4. Download The MY3 App
There is also an app called MY3 that can help you create a safety plan right on your phone. "Customize your safety plan by identifying your personal warning signs, coping strategies, distractions, and personal networks," the app's description explained. "This safety plan will be with you at all times and can help you stay safe when you start thinking about suicide." MY3 asks you to enter three contacts whom you can call when you need help. It also provides you with a list of resources you can access to get help no matter where you are.
5. Seek Out A Mental Health Professional
If you think you may be at risk for suicide and you want longterm help and support but you're not sure where to start, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Mental Health America, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention all offer a list of comprehensive resources to help you find a counselor. You can search by youth, LGBTQ+, veterans, disaster survivor, loss survivor, and more to ensure you connect with a qualified mental health professional who meets your specific needs.
If you don't have health insurance, you can call the National Alliance on Mental Illness at 1-800-950-6264 for information about free or reduced cost treatment options. Additionally, if you are in crisis you can text NAMI to 741741. Remember, you are not alone. "As with other serious illnesses, mental illness is not your fault or that of the people around you, but widespread misunderstandings about mental illness remain," NAMI explained.
Just because not everyone understands what you're going through, that doesn't mean what you're experiencing isn't real, which is why you can always call or text a hotline for immediate help from people who do understand. NAMI also offers a comprehensive guide for finding a therapist, and it walks you through every step, including how to choose the right mental health provider for you. And most important, no matter how you're feeling, please know that you matter and you don't have to go through this alone.
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.