I woke up this morning to read the tragic news that celebrated television personality, chef, and author Anthony Bourdain died of an apparent suicide. This just mere days after iconic fashion designer Kate Spade also completed suicide. It’s times like this that we hear a lot of people talk about suicide. Some of the discussion is helpful. Some of it isn’t.
What is important to understand about suicide is that open and honest discussion is vital, and may even save a life. Stigmatizing it by calling it a “selfish” decision or avoiding the subject entirely, for fear that discussion may “plant the idea” in someone’s head are two still very prevalent and very wrong modes of thinking.
The QPR Institute (Question, Persuade, Refer) encourages people to do the following if they believe a loved one is considering suicide.
QUESTION – Ask the person directly, but gently, if they have suicidal thoughts or are considering suicide. If they answer yes, then ask if they have a plan or means to do so. It is well-established that if asked directly, people with suicidal thoughts will answer honestly. It is very important to ask this very directly (not “Is everything okay” or “Is there something you want to tell me”) and very kindly (not “You’re not gonna kill yourself are you!?”) in order to take the next step.
PERSUADE – Now it is imperative to try and persuade this person to seek help. The key is to listen intently and offer hope. Be empathetic. Be understanding. Using forceful language or trying to guilt the person will not be productive.
REFER – Let the person know there are resources available to help them. Some of those resources will be listed at the bottom of this post.
Anything that halts this discussion or prompts someone who bay be considering suicide to stay quiet is harmful. Note that I wrote at the beginning of this post “completed” rather than “committed.” This is part of the ongoing effort to de-stigmatize suicide and encourage open and honest discussion. The discussion that starts with a very difficult question may end up saving a life.
1-800-273-8255 – the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
402-475-6695 – (for Nebraskans) Centerpointe Crisis Response Line
You can also call 911 at any time or seek out your local hospital
There is also a Mental Health Association of Nebraska “Warm Line” for non-emergencies. They can be reached at 402-975-2032
To learn more about QPR please go to www.qprinstitute.com. The Institute provides educational materials and trainings in the QPR process. Contact them to find out more.