My loved one just threatened suicide. What do I do?
Stay calm. Share your calm, not their chaos.
Get the person safe and remove them from harm, or harmful things from them.
Assess the seriousness of the situation. They expressed social thoughts. Did they have a plan? Were they intent on carrying out that plan? Meaning: were they about to make an attempt, or was there a date set to carry out their plan? Talking about suicide does not increase the odds of the person carrying it out, so do ask. The more questions you answered yes to here, the more serious the situation is. If there was intent in the very near future, the person might be eligible for hospitalization. This assessment is not your job. You can call, or have them call 211, a crisis hotline, free. The information you gained about thoughts, plan, and intent will be helpful to a therapist, psychiatrist, or the hospital.
Hospitalization is no fun, but is a way to keep a person safe. If you feel you or others can reasonably keep the person safe without the need for hospitalization, make a judgement call. Remove objects of harm related to the plan (knives, pills, any firearms) from the person’s environment. If the person seems desperate to die, choose hospitalization as there are more ways to attempt suicide than you may consider and their safety is priority.
Refuse to be manipulated. If the person is trying to get out of something, get you to stay in their life, control something, choose hospitalization and be clear that you will not be made an emotional hostage. You might hold that conversation for when they are more rational, though.
Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.