Sep 02 2007

What should you do if you know someone is thinking of suicide?

Published by at 5:45 pm under Counseling & Psychotherapy,Suicide

Listening from our heart is so important. It doesn’t necessarily matter what the concerns of our friends and loved ones might be. For us to listen, can be so helpful and mean so much.

When someone we care about has thoughts of suicide, it is most important to tell the difference between someone who is feeling blue…”wow, i am so unhappy!” and someone who may be thinking, “I am nobody here. No one cares about me and life is so horrible, I want to be dead.” Â

The rule of thumb is that if you are worried about someone who may hurt themselves, it is good to get them professional help. The easiest and often quickest step is to take them to the nearest hospital emergency room.

The emergency room will have doctors, psychiatrists, nurses, counselors, psychologists and social workers who are skilled in assessing suicidal risk.

I spent a few years working part-time in a hospital patient services department completing mental health and substance abuse evaluations for all incoming patients, including those who presented first in the emergency room.

After many of the professionals would evaluate the patient, the decision about the level of care would be made. Level of care meant whether the patient would be admitted to an inpatient or outpatient program of the hospital or some outpatient program somewhere else in the area.

It is a challenging role, but the collaborative, supportive work of all the different professional groups in the emergency room makes the level of care decision much easier.

Sometimes a patient would need to stay in the emergency room for many hours before a final case disposition would be made. Other times, the decision would be much easier.

The most important factor in the level of care decision would be whether the patient was a serious risk of killing themselves. This is sometimes referred to as “how lethal is the suicide plan?”

More on this idea.

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