“I want to kill myself.” ” I don’t think I can go on like this anymore.” When you hear these words, from a loved one, that too over a phone call, it can get distressing. But if someone who’s being suicidal has chosen to call you, it’s because they trust you and it might even mean that they think that there’s still a way out, and are in need of your help. So in such a situation, instead of getting overwhelmed, if you keep calm and stick with the caller, there are chances that you will prevent them from taking that fatal step. Here are few things that’ll assist you in knowing the situation of your caller, and even help you figure out what’s the best way to help someone before they go too far.
1. Don’t panic.
Be as calm as you can be, and don’t overthink about picking and choosing your words. The important thing is to show your concern, and you can show it the best by not over reacting and maintaining a calm tone through the conversation.
2. Just listen.
Allow them to spill out why they’re thinking about taking their life. Let them go on as long as they want to, just by venting out they might start feeling better, and also they’ll be glad that their desperate cry for help didn’t go unnoticed.
3. Don’t ever judge.
Try to understand them instead. If the person who’s being suicidal starts to think that just by calling you, they’ve done the right thing, you’ve already managed to make them feel safe.
4. After listening to them, ask the big question.
If the caller is not able to open up about their situation completely, if they just go about mentioning how hard their life has become or tell you that they’re not able to keep it together, just ask “Are you feeling suicidal?” It’s not a question that’ll throw them off or make them start considering it. In fact, it’ll tell them that you understand what they’re trying to say to you and that you are here to share their burden.
5. If they say yes, keep asking more questions.
This might sound strange, but just ask them as subtly as possible, how and when they are planning to act on their suicidal thoughts. It’s important that you ask this because a lot of callers wouldn’t have thought that far ahead. They are crying out for help; they’re just trying not to fight their inner battles all alone. When even one of the answers to your questions is NO; they’ll be relieved to know that they’re not alone and glad that they didn’t act before reaching out for help.
6. If someone already took a step, you can still help them.
If they’ve consumed poisonous substances, or popped pills to OD, find out what exactly they took and how much have they already ingested into their system, because there’s still a chance you can help them. You can do this by continuing to be non-judgemental and sympathetic towards their situation. Meanwhile, get another friend or someone else to call a helpline and try to arrange for medical assistance. Don’t show any signs of panic, ask the caller for their address and other details, keep telling them that you’re looking out for them and help is on its way.
7. Get help immediately.
Don’t try to save someone all by yourself. You too will need help. So it’s important that you keep trying to arrange for support during your call.
Even if you have the best intentions, and you do go out of your way to ensure the safety of the caller, you need to remember that the best coping tool you can provide them with is the help of a professional counselor. So if you know someone who’s being suicidal, please make sure that you get them the help they need as soon as you can and before it gets too late.
Disclaimer: We are not a medical service or suicide prevention helpline. If you are feeling suicidal, we would suggest you immediately call up a suicide prevention helpline – eg Vandrevala Foundation Helpline – 1 860 266 2345 (24×7), Aasra – +91 22 2754 6669 (24×7).