With the untimely death of Robin Williams, there have been many articles and programs written about suicide of late. They're hard for me to take in.
When I was just starting out in mental health in 1990, I went to hear a psychiatrist speak about new brain research on schizophrenia. While perhaps the good doctor was speaking in hyperbole, he said, "The 90s is the decade of the brain! There is every reason to believe we will have a cure for schizophrenia by the year 2000". At the time, I was a young social worker coming to terms with the devastation major mental illness has on individuals and families, and I so hoped he was right.
Now, a quarter century later, it's obvious there is no "cure" any time soon. It's frustrating, to say the least. It's often hard for loved ones to know how to help, and stigma associated with mental illness and suicide is still in full force.
Here are some questions from save.org, a group that helps provide suicide awareness, that you can use to open a discussion with those you might be concerned about because they're depressed or are showing warning signs for suicide:
Begin a dialogue by asking questions. Suicidal thoughts are common with some mental illnesses and your willingness to talk about it in a non-judgmental, non-confrontational way can be the help a person needs to seeking professional help. Questions okay to ask:
- "Do you ever feel so badly that you think about suicide?"
- "Do you have a plan to commit suicide or take your life?"
- "Have you thought about when you would do it (today, tomorrow, next week)?"
- "Have you thought about what method you would use?"
The rest of the tips on the link above are excellent. Please take the time to read them.