Suicide rates have been on the rise in the United States; between 2000 and 2020, rates increased by 30%. Even though the conversations regarding mental health are becoming more prevalent, those suffering still struggle with getting help. Learning the L.E.A.R.N acronym can potentially help save a life.
Look for signs:
Talking, joking, or researching about death
Feeling hopeless, depressed, trapped, irritable, agitated, anxious, ashamed, humiliated, or burdensome
Changes in personality, academic/work performance, sleep, withdrawing from friends/activities
Increased abuse of alcohol/drugs, reckless behavior, giving away possessions
Empathize and Listen
Most importantly, listen.
Listen with compassion, remain calm, avoid judgment, and validate their feelings.
Don't offer quick fixes, tell them everything will be OK, show anger, panic, or ask "why" questions….
People who have survived suicide attempts report what was more helpful to them— listen.
Ask Directly about Suicide
Ask in a way that invites an honest response. Use any signs you've noticed as part of the ask.
Be direct. Use the word "suicide" and be prepared for the word yes.
Asking about suicide does not cause suicide.
Remove the danger
Removing access to items used for suicide is an evidence-based approach to preventing suicide.
If they say yes, ask them, "Do you have a plan?" "Do you have access to those means?"
Lock up and limit access to firearms, prescription medications, and over-the-counter medications. In a time of crisis, lock up alcohol and drugs, belts, ropes, cords, plastic bags, knives, car keys, chemicals, and poison.
Next level of care
Call the National Suicide Prevention line at 988 if there is an immediate crisis for telephone and mobile help.
If you are not in immediate crisis but are feeling distressed, call Siouxland Mental Health at 712-252-3871 option 8. Our mental health professionals can help you and your family member make a safety plan. Siouxland Mental Health Center also offers a 24/7 Crisis Center for those experiencing increased mental health symptoms.