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When Talking/chatting With Someone Suicidal

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Some useful bits about talking/chatting with someone who is suicidal:

# Express your concern and ask if they are thinking about suicide

# Don't give up if they're reluctant to talk, let them know you are there to listen

# Ask how long they have felt this way

# Ask if they have thought about how they would do it (not asking for details of a plan)

# Listen

# Don't act shocked or try to change the subject

# Encourage them to tell you how they feel

# Hear them out, don't jump to conclusions or make judgements

# Try to understand how they feel without offering simple solutions Respond

# Be direct, open and honest

# Let them know you care and that they are not alone

# Help them to understand that suicidal feelings pass and depression can be treated


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  • 16 years later...

An important point to keep in mind is that suicidal ideation is not a natural human mental state, as it conflicts with the individual’s instinct for self-preservation. Suicidality is a reflection that the person is experiencing a deficit in his or her ability to cope with emotional pain. This may be transitory or chronic, brought about by overwhelming circumstances or the influence of mental illness that generates the cognitive illusion of despair. If the person is diagnosed with a mental condition for which suicidal ideation is a known comorbidity, its onset is a strong indication that the person may be symptomatic, and his or her care provider should be alerted.

The key thing to remember is that the person is in terrible mental anguish, and is in desperate for relief — the sufferer does not actually wish to die; the person just wants the pain to stop. At the moment, the only way the person can think of to achieve this is by not living.

This is why is is important to listen to the person, encourage him or her to express the source of distress, and acknowledge the pain. This alone is a valve to begin to release some of the distress, and an opportunity to begin to cope. It also opens an opportunity for the use of reason to counteract what may have become increasingly irrational patters of disordered thinking leading toward the ultimate irrational act.

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