Suicide First Aid
Today you could quite literally save someone's life.
Let me start by saying that heartbreakingly so, sometimes no matter what interventions and supports are offered to a person, some people still end up losing their battle to suicide. I am telling you now, it is not your fault.
Suicide is the leading cause of death of 14 to 44-year-olds in Australia. But it doesn't have to be.
There is a countless list of services in our communities designed and created to support those who are at risk of suicide, but unfortunately more often than not, those who lose their lives to suicide never made it through their doors. It is you, their friend, their sibling, mother, lover, that see the first signs. That alone can feel overwhelming for many. "What can I do? What if I say the wrong thing? I don't know what I'm doing! What if I make them feel worse? It's better if I don't bring it up!" All of these are very normal thoughts of confusion and helplessness.
However, you don't need to feel this way. If you do find yourself in a situation where you believe you may know someone is at risk, there are some skills and steps that are nationally recognised to assist you in keeping that person safe. This of it like Suicide First Aid. In First Aid, you learn just enough to keep that person alive until professionals can assist. That is a similar theory behind the set of skills we are going to touch on here. Our aim is to give you more confidence in approaching the subject of suicide with someone that you may feel is at risk.
Firstly, let's squash the myth that bringing up suicide with someone that you consider to be at risk will just put the idea of suicide in their minds. That is simply NOT the case. If you are seeing the signs, then the chances are that they have already considered it. What needs to happen is creating an opportunity for an open, honest conversation about their thoughts and feelings.
Here is a simple and easy approach to remember.
T - Tell
A - Ask
L - Listen
K - Keep Safe
If someone is telling you (and "telling" can be through words, actions, behaviours, sensing it) about their feelings of desperation or thoughts of suicide or self-harm, take them seriously. We also encourage that if YOU are that person with those feelings, find someone that you trust to talk about your thoughts, feelings, with. We want you to be alive!
If you think someone might be suicidal, ask them directly.
"Are you thinking about suicide?"
Don't be afraid to do this! It shows that you care and will actually decrease their risk. make sure you ask directly and unambiguously.
3) Listen and stay with them
If they say yes they are suicidal, listen to them and allow them to express how they are feeling. Don't leave them alone. Stay with them or get someone else to stay with them.
4) Keep them safe
Get them the appropriate help. Call a crisis helpline such as Lifeline or even 000 if their life is in danger. If you can get in straight away, visit a General Practitioner or psychologist. Even if the danger is not immediate, they may need longer-term support for the issues that led them to feel this way.
We strongly recommend and encourage everyone to participate in a suicide alertness workshop. Half-day workshops are spread across Australia that often runfor free or for a small fee. You could truly save someone's life today.
Just remember; We want you to be alive.
Healing after suicide
Common warning signs of suicide risk
SafeTALK full workshop providers
(Counsellor/Human Welfare Activist)