Talking about suicide, and how to help if you or someone you love is in crisis

If you are in crisis right now, please call 1-800-273-8255 (the National Suicide Prevention Line) and/or read this, right now.

Last Thursday Alissa and I had the opportunity to talk about suicide prevention at the Henry Carter Hull Library in Clinton. Our talk was also featured here.

Suicide is a difficult topic to talk about, and this is exactly why we must. The above article, and this recent article in USA Today discuss strategies to have those difficult conversations. I want to emphasize that the most important point in our talks and in these articles is that we do need to have these conversations, and that asking someone if they are having thoughts about ending their life, and asking if they have made specific plans will not trigger or induce the thoughts of suicide. If someone is thinking about suicide, I promise that you did not put that thought there, they were already thinking about it.  Thoughts of suicide are actually quite common– 10 to 20% of the population reports ideation, or thoughts, of suicide.  It is when the thoughts shift into urges that our concern intensifies.

5 Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain

  1. Ask: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It’s not an easy question but studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts.
  2. Keep them safe: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the at-risk person has a plan and removing or disabling the lethal means can make a difference.
  3. Be there: Listen carefully and learn what the individual is thinking and feeling. Findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicidemay in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal thoughts.
  4. Help them connect: Save the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s number in your phone so it’s there when you need it: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also help make a connection with a trusted individual like a family member, friend, spiritual advisor, or mental health professional.
  5. Stay Connected: Staying in touch after a crisis or after being discharged from care can make a difference. Studies have shown the number of suicide deaths goes down when someone follows up with the at-risk person.

Here is some information about local and national crisis resources:

Call 2-1-1: If you are in crisis or if you are calling on behalf of a caller in a crisis you can dial 2-1-1 and press option 1 off the main menu. Calls from callers in crisis situations are prioritized.

Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services- Shoreline: (203-483-2630, Press 6 for Psychiatric Crisis) Telephone crisis intervention for any Branford, East Haven, Guilford, Madison, North Branford, North Haven resident is available M-F: 8:30am-5pm. Psychiatric mobile response 24hrs/7days.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: (1-800-273-8255)  24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones.

Suicide…Read This First:

The Columbia Suicide Scale:

NIMH Fact Sheet:

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