What should I do when I learn someone is interested in suicide?
Trigger warning – this post discusses suicidal feelings.
“I can’t enjoy anything”, “it would be better if your life was without me”, “I can’t handle it anymore.” When you hear these kinds of phrases, it might be an early warning sign of suicide. You might know someone in a suicidal mood, and ask yourself “what should I do to help them?”
Considering suicide could happen to anyone – it might be a friend, a co-worker, or a family member. There can be a lot of factors that lead people to contemplate suicide. In LGBTQ+ communities, according to the Centre for Suicide Prevention, 1 in 3 trans youth attempted suicide in 2015. Sometimes people won’t show any signs of suicidal ideation. There was even a viral TikTok suicide video where it didn’t look like the person was going to commit suicide. However, if you observe people who are thinking about suicide, you might be the one who can help them.
You can use the TASC model, and here are 4 steps to engage with people who might be considering suicide:
T- Tune in
When you see a sign from someone, for example sitting alone and separate from the party, mentioning how disappointing their life is. Those signs can point to considering suicide, so tune in by paying attention or showing you care about them.
After you tune in, and you still think you might see a sign of suicidal ideation, you should ask directly in a calm, non-judgmental manner to show you want to hear their answers “are you considering suicide?” You can also ask about their thoughts. This person might feel like they can’t talk about the pain that they are in, so by asking directly you can create a safe space to talk.
Ask about the issue that lead to the thought of suicide and don’t try to interrupt while they are explaining the situation. State back what they have said and then ask a bit more. For example, “you are thinking about suicide, and that is serious. Tell me more. What happened? When did this start?” You can let them know that suicide is serious and important, and that they need help to stay safe.
When the conversation is done and you’ve stated that thinking of suicide is serious, you need to help them establish a connection to helping centres that will foster safety. You should help them to connect with help as soon as possible Most importantly, don’t leave them alone with their thoughts of suicide.
Suicide can happen with anyone and in any community, but you can be the one to start helping reduce suicidal thoughts. Here is a list of organizations that you can reach out to for help:
Befrienders Worldwide www.befrienders.org Canada Suicide Prevention Service (CSPS) www.crisisservicescanada.ca 1.833.456.4566 Crisis Text Line Canada www.crisistextline.ca Text CONNECT to 686868
ACAS is a safe space for East and Southeast Asians and has a Support program where you come to talk with them, and they can guide you in the direction needed for further help.