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  • Writer's pictureMisti Luke, LCSW

Understanding Suicide Prevention: How to Support Someone You Love

Updated: Mar 22


In 2020, Oklahoma tragically lost 853 lives to suicide, marking a devastating 10% increase from the previous year, as reported by the state medical examiner’s office. This alarming statistic represents the highest number of suicides recorded in Oklahoma since 2006. Shockingly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Oklahoma ranked 6th in the United States for its suicide mortality rate in 2020.


This staggering figure places Oklahoma well above the national average for suicide rates. Amidst the challenges of recent years, it becomes apparent how pervasive suicidal feelings can be among adults. However, by delving into the root causes of suicide and adopting preventative measures, individuals can empower themselves to recognize and address factors such as substance use, thus offering crucial support to those in need.


Two female friends standing outdoors, sharing a side hug with their backs to the camera. They appear to be offering each other support and comfort.
Two female friends sharing a side hug

understanding THE TRIGGERS BEHIND SUICIDAL FEELINGS?


Suicidal feelings can stem from a myriad of factors, often intertwined with mental health struggles that cast a shadow over our perceptions of life. Instances of abuse, bullying, loss, heartbreak, chronic physical pain, financial strain, and traumatic experiences are among the many life events that can plunge individuals into the depths of despair.


When engulfed by such overwhelming emotions, it becomes incredibly challenging to envision a way out that doesn't involve ending one's own life. Despite the existence of potential solutions, the darkness can obscure our ability to grasp onto hope.


For those who harbor concerns about a loved one grappling with suicidal thoughts, recognizing the warning signs becomes crucial. Below, we outline some key indicators that may signal a heightened risk of self-harm, providing a pathway to support and intervention.

RECOGNIZING WARNING SIGNS OF SUICIDE for suicide prevention

While patterns may vary among individuals contemplating suicide, certain warning signs tend to manifest more prominently in those experiencing such thoughts.


One of the most noticeable indicators is when someone expresses feelings of hopelessness or being trapped in their circumstances. Verbal cues, such as discussing death or expressing a desire to cease existing, are particularly concerning. Additionally, individuals contemplating suicide may grapple with overwhelming feelings of guilt or shame, often expressing sentiments of having no purpose to continue living. Withdrawal from loved ones and social activities can also signal distress.


Another alarming sign is when someone begins to give away personal belongings or ties up loose ends, possibly even bidding farewell to friends and family. This act of preparation for departure can serve as a significant red flag.


Less obvious risk factors may include noticeable shifts in behavior or routine. Changes in sleep patterns, such as difficulty getting out of bed or experiencing insomnia, could indicate emotional turmoil. Emotional distancing, marked by a withdrawal from usual social interactions, may also be observed. Additionally, complaints of physical pain, especially when paired with emotional distress, should raise significant concern.


By remaining vigilant and attentive to these warning signs, we can better support those in distress and potentially intervene to prevent tragic outcomes.


SUPPORTING SOMEONE WITH SUICIDAL THOUGHTS


When someone you care about is grappling with suicidal thoughts, it can be an overwhelming and heartbreaking situation. However, there are steps you can take to offer meaningful support and potentially save a life.


  1. Listen Without Judgment: Create a safe space for open and honest communication. Listen attentively and empathetically without rushing to provide solutions or judgment.

  2. Validate Their Feelings: Let them know that their feelings are valid and understandable, even if you may not fully comprehend their pain. Avoid dismissing their emotions or offering cliché responses.

  3. Express Care and Concern: Show your love and concern by checking in regularly and expressing your support. Reassure them that they are not alone in their struggles and that you are there to help them through difficult times.

  4. Encourage Professional Help: Urge them to seek support from a therapist, counselor, or mental health professional. Offer assistance in finding resources and scheduling appointments if needed.

  5. Remove Access to Means: If possible, remove access to any means of self-harm, such as firearms, medications, or sharp objects. Take proactive steps to create a safe environment for them.

  6. Stay Connected: Maintain regular contact and continue to offer support even after they've sought professional help. Let them know that you're there for them throughout their journey towards recovery.

  7. Educate Yourself: Learn about suicide and mental health. Understanding the warning signs and risk factors can better equip you to support them effectively.

  8. Seek Support for Yourself: Supporting someone in crisis can take a toll on your own mental health. Reach out to friends, family, or a therapist to ensure you have the resources and strength to provide ongoing support.

  9. Be Patient and Persistent: Recovery takes time and may involve setbacks. Be patient and continue to offer support and encouragement, even when progress seems slow.

  10. Know When to Seek Emergency Help: If you believe they are in immediate danger, do not hesitate to seek emergency assistance. Call emergency services or accompany them to the nearest emergency room for immediate evaluation and support.

Remember, your presence and compassion can make a profound difference in their journey towards recovery. If you or someone you know is in crisis, don't hesitate to reach out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call or text 988.


Please note that while this blog post provides valuable information and support for those struggling with suicidal thoughts or supporting loved ones, it is not a substitute for professional therapy or treatment. It is important tIf you or someone you know is experiencing persistent feelings of depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns, you are strongly encouraged to seek help from a qualified therapist, counselor, or mental health professional. Remember, you are not alone, and there is support available to help you navigate through difficult times. Take the first step towards healing by reaching out for professional assistance here.


Misti’s counseling approach is grounded in empathy and personalized care. Whether you’re facing personal struggles, legal battles, or seeking professional guidance, she provides a safe space for all things mental health. When the pandemic arrived, Misti broadened her Private Practice by offering online services, allowing her to connect with clients virtually across the great state of Oklahoma. Despite these changes, she continues to see people in person at her office in Broken Bow on a case-by-case basis.


For inquiries or correspondence, reach out to Misti at misti@mistiluke.com.

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