In my experience working with suicidal adults and in counseling families with children that presented suicidal behaviors, I have seen ways that behaviors escalate and want to share some symptoms and interventions with you.

As a loved one with someone considering suicide there is a need to be vigilant. Truly suicidal people will be eager to learn how, or gain access to resources to help. A loved one that notices someone withdrawal from others, seem preoccupied with harm or death, or has started to avoid things they normally take pleasure in may be depressed and on a path to self-harm or suicide. Previous mental illness or episodes can be a symptom of the potential to take things to an extreme without considering other coping skills or the reality that things can get better.

It may seem counterproductive to discuss suicide with someone that is suicidal, but in fact, if you show that you care very much and are willing to help them through any situation, it can bring some relief to the suicidal person. When death is a potential outcome, embarrassment should not be a barrier.

When I worked in adult mental health, we sometimes used a suicide contract. This is something in writing that defines if a person is feeling like harming or killing themselves, they will call or get in touch with a person first, and that person will answer, no strings attached any time. This may seem like a bit of a gimmick, but sometimes a little time and conversation can be enough to get a person past a dark moment.

Of course is a person is on the edge, they should be seeking or forced to seek some counseling, and may need to be inpatient for a time until they and the family can learn some different coping mechanisms.

Dr. Ethan Gregory 

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Author of I’m Sorry, You are Not a Pick-Up Artist and I’m Sorry, You are Not a Disney Princess

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