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It’s Okay to Talk About Suicide

Suicide Prevention

Emily Hauser, LMSW at Health West, Inc

Suicide is something that still has a stigma attached to it. It’s something that is treated as though it should never be discussed, yet it’s very prevalent in our society. One common misconception is that the mere discussion of suicide can cause someone to become suicidal or encourage them to act on their thoughts. But, in reality, talking about it creates a safe space for someone to voice their concerns, can make them feel more comfortable in seeking professional help, and some studies have shown that talking about it may actually reduce suicidal thoughts. Some signs to watch for in yourself or someone else includes changes like:

● Withdrawing from friends, family, or things that bring joy

● Increasing self-blame/self-criticism

● Threatening to hurt or kill themselves

● Increasing sadness, hopelessness, despair, or anger

● Mention of or thoughts of being better off gone

● Expressing having no sense or purpose in life

● Thoughts or signs of self-harm

● Seeking access to lethal means such as pills or weapons

● Dramatic changes in mood or sleep

● Giving away possessions

If you or someone you know is showing these signs or symptoms, do not be afraid that discussing thoughts of suicide will do any harm. So, how can we talk to someone who shows these symptoms or reports experiencing thoughts of suicide? Speak with the person and inform them that you’ve noticed some of these changes and ask if they have been considering suicide. It’s a difficult question to ask but it’s important. Listen without judgement- give them time to think and express themselves openly. Reassure them and thank them for being open with you. Ask them if they have had any plan and work with them to remove any lethal means from easy access (i.e. removing guns from home, holding on to medication for them, taking harmful items and locking them out of reach). If you find the person is actively suicidal, do not leave them alone. Stay with that person until you both feel safe or help them find a friend or family member that can be with them. Work with them to reach out to a suicide hotline. Encourage appropriate professional help such as a counselor, speaking to their primary care provider, or other local services such as the ER or the Crisis Center. If we work with those around us to address any suicidal thoughts and talk openly without judgement, we can create a plethora of safe spaces and encourage those we love (or ourselves) that there is no need to be ashamed or fearful of being open about suicidal thoughts, rather that there is support to help them through this difficult time. If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, please reach out. Help is available. Local, regional, and nationwide supports include:

● The South East Idaho Behavioral Crisis Center (1001 N 7th Ave., 208-909-5177)
● Portneuf Medical Center (777 Hospital Way, 208-239-1000) ● Spanish Crisis Line (208-681-8715)
● Adult Mental Health Services (8am-5pm Weekdays 208-234-7900, After Hours Crisis Line 1-888-573-7652)
● Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline (208-398-4357)

Emily Hauser is a LMSW currently working at Health West Chubbuck and ISU. She has experience doing crisis work, integrated care, and providing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). She received her education from ISU and has deep connections to this area and loves the people and community. Emily loves being able to tend to her garden, be with her dogs and family, game, and do anything outdoors.


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