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.