I can’t stop someone who wants to kill himself

That’s what a lot of people think. But it’s wrong.

Surprisingly, most of those who get the urge to kill themselves just want to stop the pain. In other words, they don’t necessarily want to kill themselves.

In Charles’ case, I had no idea he was considering suicide and had I known the signs of suicide, I would have seen these signs also known as “invitations.”

Not everyone that is thinking of suicide leaves these clues. I know of several where “clues” were so subtle, or practically nonexistent.  Charles did leave clues, however. The few I did see, and I didn’t see all of them, I thought they were indications he was headed for rock bottom and he would ask for help. But they weren’t. They were clear signs of suicidal ideation.

When I was at the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Brent was presenting and he said that two third of internet searches of those thinking of suicide related to methods for killing themselves and one third looking for help. I actually see that statistic. A good number of people are searching for ways to die but actually searching for help when they land here. I can tell by what they click on.

We know that those thinking of suicide are often ambivalent about death, waffling between wanting to end the pain and wanting to live. We also know that once someone has decided on a method in that moment of intense emotional pain, they rarely think of some other way to kill themselves. Since they are in an irrational state of mind, they are experiencing tunnel vision. Thinking up a new way to die simply is not something that people in that state of mind are able to do.

So if they have a firearm, you can ask them to lock that in your trunk until that moment passes. They can place it there themselves. (If you live in a state that allows that and of course you don’t want to risk danger to yourself either.)

If they admit to you they are thinking of pills, make sure they are not in your cabinet or locked away in a safe. Including Tylenol.

You can’t remove a bridge but in many cases you can remove means. “Removing means” simply means restricting access to common means of suicide, such as firearms, toxic gas and pesticides. This has been shown to be effective in reducing rates of death in suicide.

Never think someone else will come along. Assume you are the only one. So never dismiss someone’s threat to end their life with the excuse, “Well there’s nothing I can do about it.”  Because you just might be able to save a life.

Published by

AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

4 thoughts on “I can’t stop someone who wants to kill himself”

  1. I happened to stumble upon your website tonight while searching for ways to end my life. As a huge advocate for mental health and as someone who struggles with depression and PTSD, I thank you for the work you’ve done to share your point of view of someone who has lost a child to suicide.

    The entry about your son’s dog hit home with me because I have two dogs of my own, one a service dog and the other a prospect for psychiatric service dog work, who would notice my absence and to be honest; they are what keep me alive. They are my lifeline.

    1. Oh wow Gabby. I’m so sorry you felt so awful you were looking up ways to die. But so amazed you found that reason to stay with us. Somewhere in you wanted to live and you found that part of you.

      Very courageous of you to post a comment and I thank you for that and your feedback. You made my week. And Andy Dog’s week, too. I will let him know what a hero he is. 🙂

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