No one talks about: What to do when a loved one is suicidal
Child and Adult Psychiatrist Dr. Domenick Sportelli offers helpful strategies to help care and support a loved one who is struggling with suicidal thoughts.
The way that I look at suicide intention or suicidal thinking, that is the heart attack if I was a cardiologist,
meaning, that's an emergency. [MUSIC PLAYING] In psychiatry, we have an old cliche saying.
And it says that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. People often ask, why would somebody
ever want to harm themselves? And there are lots of reasons for this. And every circumstance is unique. So in most cases, it's an escape.
In a lot of cases, suicide feels to the individual that it's the only solution that they
can come to get rid of these uncomfortable emotions and circumstances in their lives.
Another reason why somebody might consider hurting themselves is physical pain. Sometimes we see people that have significant chronic pain in their lives,
and they can't control it. And it leads them to think down the lines of self-injury or suicide. There still is a mental health stigma.
So people do still unfortunately perceive mental illness, whether it's depression or anxiety or something
like bipolar disorder-- they still think, wow, there's something wrong with me that's a character flaw. I shouldn't be experiencing this.
No one will understand this. I can't talk to anybody about this. It sets up an environment where they don't feel understood.
They feel isolated. They feel alone. And they feel as though they cannot get help. If you feel that someone might be feeling
depressed or sad or suicidal, there are a couple of things that you can do to help them. And I think most importantly, let them know that you care
and that they're not alone, because I'm telling you right now, probably a large reason why they feel the way they feel is
because they feel isolated and misunderstood. So that will go a long way. When you do this, you want to do it in a non-judgmental way and a non-critical way.
Reassure the individual that what they're going through is not permanent.
And when you're in the midst of a storm, sometimes it's really, really hard to see your way out. So you need someone else who can see past that storm
to guide you through that storm and get you to the sunlight on the other side. Don't be afraid to ask someone directly,
are you feeling like you want to end your life? Do you have suicidal thoughts? Are you feeling suicidal? Do you have a plan to hurt yourself?
We know in research that by asking these direct questions, you're more likely to engage in a productive conversation that can get this individual help.
Things that you want to avoid is saying things like, hey, cheer up, you'll be fine. Being dismissive of it can be a little
challenging for somebody. Just changing the subject and not really engaging it can be hard for the individual that's suffering with this.
Even sometimes just trying to give advice, the way you would handle it, sometimes isn't the best way to do it.
Browse videos by topic categories