How to Help

If you're like us, your digital life is one big, fast news feed. Some of this news is messed up. How to Help works in the news cycle to connect you with ways to do something about the day's big stories.

You Can Help Prevent Suicide

You Can Help Prevent Suicide

This week the world lost two icons to suicide: fashion designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain.

Their tragic deaths have hit hard, especially for those who know someone struggling with depression or are dealing with it themselves.

Do you need help? Talk to someone. Call the suicide prevention hotline.

If you’re having suicidal thoughts, call The Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The hotline is a safe, judgement-free zone where you can get the help you need.

Via the hotline, you can also:

  • Find a therapist or support group.

  • Find resources built specifically for Native American, LGBTQ+ veteran,  youth and other communities.

  • Create a safety net using the MY3 app: This simple phone app sets up a network of three contacts — maybe a friend, family member or therapist — who are on speed-dial and available at any time. It also includes emergency links to the suicide prevention hotline and 911.

Know a friend who’s struggling? Reach out to them — and back yourself up with these resources.

Send a text or make a call to let your friend know that you’re there for them. This process often takes patience, courage to acknowledge your own feelings about their struggles, and awareness of the warning signs.

Being the supporter in a crisis can take a toll. There’s lots of support available to you in this role.

  • When you can, create a safety plan: The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention suggests encouraging your loved one to meet with a therapist or counselor to create a safety plan. This helps people recognize their personal warning signs, understand their coping strategies and know the right people to contact when a crisis arises.

  • Encourage them to maintain a balanced lifestyle: Make sure they eat regularly and get enough sleep every night to help reduce stress and anxiety. Break the ice by taking them to dinner or offering to cook.

  • Be a self-care resource: Be supportive in finding ways that allow your friend to unload stress and focus on taking care of themselves, from practicing meditation techniques, to going on hikes to listening to their favorite music.

Follow the #BeThe1To 5-step plan

This campaign provides evidence-based action steps on how to communicate with someone who may be considering suicide.

  • Ask. Don’t be afraid to ask a person if they’re considering suicide. Studies show the question does not increase an individual’s risk of self-harm.

  • Keep them safe. Research proves that you can make an impact by making lethal means less available to a person who is considering suicide.

  • Be there. Offering a sense of “connectedness” can be an important preventative measure.

  • Help them connect. Suicide intervention can and does work. Make sure those options are available to your loved one.

  • Follow up. The means of follow-up can be simple, like sending a postcard. Anything to show that you care.

Know what to say and how to say it

Advocates prefer the term “death by suicide” as opposed to saying a person “committed suicide.” Find out more on why language matters.

It’s also important to be weary of “suicide contagion,” where one high-profile death may inspire many more. It’s best not to go into the specifics of how someone died by suicide — statistics show that the more that the public fixates on the gruesome details, the higher the rates of suicides that follow. This is especially an issue for media coverage of suicides. Journalists are told to not cover suicides like a spectacle. But unfortunately, some get it wrong.

Raise awareness in your community

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention hosts community walks as a symbolic gesture to show that the people who are suffering are not alone. You can join these efforts wherever you live, from building communities with survivors who have lost loved ones to bringing prevention training to schools.

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