Helping a Loved-One who has Thoughts about Suicide

When a loved one is having thoughts of suicide, family members often do not know how to respond. Many people have found success in therapy and/or medication, but there are things individuals can do at home that will make things easier, and you can help with many of them. Here are some suggestions.

Writing

Creative writing or journaling can be extremely helpful for people who suffer from depression, trauma, or suicidal thoughts. You can find writing prompts online to get your loved one started and encourage them to write a little bit each day. Having an outlet with a bit of structure can help organize thoughts and banish anxiety.

Art as therapy

Visual art, dance, music, and theater are all wonderful ways to express oneself. Even if your loved one insists that they are not creative, help them find something they enjoy doing that will allow them to get in touch with and handle their most difficult emotions. Art therapy has been used to great effect in helping people with anxiety, mood disorders, and trauma in recent years because it can be done in a soothing environment and allows the sufferer to express unpleasant emotions and negative thoughts in a healthy way.

Get Social and Stay Organized

Isolation often plays a big part in suicidal thoughts, so after your loved one has been in recovery for a while, help them find ways to ease into a social situation and stay there. Whether it means finding a group therapy session or support group to attend once a week or getting out of the house to the library or to grab a coffee, it’s important for survivors of trauma to feel like they are part of a community.

Help your loved one set tasks for the week and write everything down on a calendar so they can mark them off as they go. This can help them feel like they are achieving goals every day, which is an important part of recovery.

Physical Health

It’s important not to forget about physical health. Help your loved one–with the assistance of their doctor, if necessary–figure out a fitness routine that works for them. Whether it’s walking a little every day or doing yoga, exercise can be great for mental well-being and can help your loved one feel more energetic and good about themselves.

Substance Misuse Treatment

Substance misuse and suicidal thoughts and behaviors are often linked. If substance misuse is a concern for your loved one, ensure they receive adequate treatment in addition to any therapy they are attending. Drugs and alcohol only make depression and suicidal thoughts worse, so it’s important to make sure the survivor is coping in only healthy ways and isn’t in danger of a relapse. They are often used to mask symptoms as well, so substance misuse may develop as an unhealthy coping skill for managing emotional pain.

If you feel your loved one is in danger of another attempt on their life, don’t hesitate… get help. Don’t leave them alone and remove any items from the area that could be used for self-harm. Don’t be afraid to talk about suicide. Talking about it does not make a person more likely to act. In many cases, it can let them know you are concerned for their well-being. Try not to use judgmental words; simply let them know you’re there for them, you’re listening, and that you are taking them seriously.


Jennifer Scott knows how difficult it can be to live with anxiety and depression. She has experienced both since she was in her teens. Today, she writes about the ups and downs of her mental illness on SpiritFinder.org. The blog serves as both a source of information for people with mental illness and a forum where those living with anxiety and depression can come together to discuss their experiences.

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