…You Can Do This

Stress can be a killer when it spirals down into a deep depression…and more.

Mental health and suicide prevention themes are popular for my health & wellness training sessions. That’s a good thing, as we all need to learn more about how to help ourselves and each other in the face of these complex conundrums.

Yesterday I spoke to TSA professionals at the headquarters in Arlington, about the facts surrounding suicides in the United States and strategies to prevent them at work and at home.

ripples in water

Show empathy to someone who is struggling. Don’t judge, give advice, share your personal experiences or tell them that everything is going to be okay.

ASK that person if s/he is considering hurting herself/himself. You won’t be planting the seed. It will be received in the spirit of care and concern.

Listen attentively. Put down the technology, the phone, and other disruptions. Listen more. Close your mouth and let that person have the floor. Remember Oprah? She validates what people say. She lets them know that she hears them. She looks at them, acknowledges them and holds them in a safe space. She paraphrases what she hears so that she can gain clarity about what that person intends and means. Be an Oprah.

CARE. Try to normalize. Let that person know that what s/he is feeling has probably been felt by others. That s/he is not alone. That there are resources and loads of experts who are familiar with exactly what is going on in that person’s head. That the curtain of loneliness and despair has been lifted for many others and that this can happen for her/him, too. If possible, remove any means that could be used for self-injury.

Give hope. When we hope we change our energy. We change our outlook. We choose to go to a sunnier side of the street or at the very least, we let our troubles take a break for a little while. Hope is the beginning of healing. It lets some light in.

ESCORT. Call 911, your Employee Assistance Program, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (24×7, phone, text, chat), head to the nearest emergency room or find a chaplain or local doctor. Do not leave that person alone. Be there. Stay there until help is received.

1-800-273-TALK (8255); SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.

You cannot always identify someone who is planning to harm themselves. But sometimes you can. Be a friend. You can do this!