Someone willing to speak about suicide has been thinking about it regularly. Take these comments seriously. Studies have shown that those that mention suicide often attempt or at least plan an attempt. Work up your courage and take the following steps:
- inform the individual that you are going to take any suicidal statements very seriously and act accordingly
- remove all weapons or potential weapons, including pills and alcohol
- talk plainly to the individual about the effects of his or her suicide on loved ones
- insist on a trip to the doctor or local clinic
- accompany the individual to the appointment
The guidelines above are great when you're dealing with someone who values your opinion and responds to your support. Others are so ill that they cannot take any steps to help themselves and cannot accept help from others. They will isolate themselves. If this is the case and you truly fear an attempt may occur, you can still intervene. Call 911 and inform the dispatcher that you fear this person may attempt suicide. Just sharing their suicidal statements is enough to get policemen to the individual's door. You can also relate any plan details the individual may have shared with you and any availability of weapons or pills. The police will take the individual by force if need be to the local emergency room. Once a doctor provides a diagnosis, the police can then escort the individual to the county psychiatric unit for treatment.
Contrary to the image instilled by old movies and books, psychiatric units treat their clients with compassion and integrity. Run by doctors and oversight committees, they are clean and organized. A stop at the psychiatric unit may be just the wake-up call your loved one needs to convince him or her that doctors really can help.
More Answers from International Bipolar Foundation