Dr. Kiandra Hebert, PhD, MS, Licensed Psychologist
Four Rivers Behavioral Health
The holidays can bring about giving, good cheer and family get togethers. It can also be a time when some feel especially lonely, depressed, or may even contemplate suicide. Although many of us are “wrapped up” in holiday celebrations we can always be on the lookout for our relatives, friends and acquaintances who are feeling sad, upset or alone.
As the festivities ramp up, think about the people in your life who may be struggling. Did a friend not seem to be themselves? Does a co-worker look tired or withdrawn? Does a member of your family who is usually friendly want to spend more time home alone or is not interested in the usual activities? Are you concerned about someone who is talking about past regrets, or not being good enough? If you are concerned about someone who seems depressed or says something that concerns you, it’s okay to ask if they have been thinking about hurting themselves and wishing they weren’t alive anymore. It’s not uncommon for friends and family to avoid asking about suicide because they are concerned about causing offense, putting the idea in their head, or simply not wanting to intrude. In reality, asking could save a life.
Just as important as asking the question is how you act when they respond. Focus on listening, try not to judge, provide hope and encourage them to seek help. If someone says they are going to hurt themselves, be direct! Let them know you care, ask if they have a specific plan or method of hurting themselves.
If you believe someone to be in imminent danger of hurting themselves encourage them to seek help, call a local crisis line or call 911.