Suicide

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If you are feeling Suicidal

Remember 5 things

  1. The pain of life can sometimes feel like it’s overwhelming your capacity to deal with life. This is particularly true if you are suffering from depression, which is distressingly common among teenagers.
     
  2. Feeling Suicidal Does Not Mean That You Are
    • Bad
    • Weak
    • Selfish
    • A loser
    • Incompetent
    • Unworthy
       

      It Does Mean That You Are Probably

    • Temporarily overwhelmed by the pain of your life
    • Worn out from expending lots of energy to cope
    • Feeling hopeless, unconnected and out of options
       
  3. Suicide is a permanent solution for temporary problems. This is true even for the problems that feel overwhelming.
     
  4. Growing up is hard and the teenage years are an emotional rollercoaster. Remember that with rollercoasters it can be terrifying on the steep drops, but if you don’t jump off (a bad thing to do), you then head back up. Rollercoasters can be intimidating at first, but as you get more experience with them, they lose much of their power to intimidate. Life is like that, so don’t jump off right now – there will be an upturn.
     
  5. There are effective solutions for dealing with the temporary problems, even the severe ones. It doesn’t seem that way when you are feeling suicidal, particularly because you are in extreme pain, are worn out from trying to find solutions and the solutions may not be obvious—but they are there and there are people that will be very willing to help you find those solutions.

So—Stay on the Rollercoaster and take the following 5 steps in taking charge of your life in a way that doesn’t end it.

What to Do Right Now

Get Emergency Help

For an immediate connection by phone with people who care and are trained to help—call the following help-lines. If you aren’t satisfied with your first experience, call another line. The phone counselors are usually well trained, but it’s always a matter of finding the right fit.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline:  1-800-273-talk (8255)

National Hopeline Network:  1-800-suicide (784-2433)

The Trevor Project (LGBT focus):  1-866- 488 -7386

If you don't think you're going to be able to wait any longer and need to be in a safe place, go to the hospital. Get someone to drive you or drive yourself and check yourself in. Services will be in place to keep you safe until you're feeling ready to leave.

If you can't get yourself to the hospital, call 911. Ask for emergency services to come and help you. 

Don't let embarrassment or any other negative feelings prevent you from calling when your life is in danger. You need help, and that's why they're there.

Five Steps to Take

There are some very specific steps that you can take—even when feeling overwhelmed—that can help you get out of the danger zone and open up possibilities for you.

Step #1: Promise Not to do Anything Destructive Right Now

Even though you may be feeling overwhelmed by pain right now, give yourself some distance between suicidal thoughts/feelings and suicidal actions. Promise yourself that you will give yourself 24 hours to start finding new solutions to your pain other than suicide. 

If you are in intense emotional and/or physical pain, remember that your judgment is being clouded by that pain. If you are considering suicide, you are trying to end that pain. Please do not confuse ending your pain with ending your life. The two are very different.

After all you’ve been through, 24 hours is not much more time to wait. And there really are people and strategies that can make a difference. If you act on your suicidal thoughts/feelings now, you will never know what might have been.

Step #2: Connect with Others—Don’t Keep Suicidal Thoughts/Feelings to Yourself

Find someone you trust and let them know how bad things are for you right now. It may be a friend, a neighbor, a therapist, a member of the clergy, a teacher, a coach, a member of your extended family, or a family doctor. It can also be an experienced counselor at one of the helplines noted above and in the Resource section on this site. 

Ask them to stay with you until you are safe (even over the phone). If you are not in a safe place, get to one. Drive yourself, have someone else drive you or walk with you—or call 911 and get help from emergency services.

Do not let fear, shame, or embarrassment prevent you from seeking help. Remember, it’s not a sign of weakness or being inadequate. One of the keys to life is being able to ask for help—in small and large ways. We all need support at different times. Just talking about how you are feeling and how you got to this point can release a lot of the pressure that has built up, clarify your thinking and increase your ability to cope.

If you don’t feel understood, find someone else. There will be a surprising number of people that will be ready to support you, but not everyone will be good at it (see “Help Your Helpers” below). In fact, the more people you engage, the better. 

Step #3: Take Heart and Remember Who You Are—People Do Get Through This

Yes, right now the pain of life is overwhelming your capacity to cope. Even in the midst of the pain and discouragement, however, there are several reasons to take heart and regain a sense of hope.

First, remember that you have fought for yourself up to this point and you are much tougher than you feel right now. You have expended a tremendous amount of energy coping and drawn on a lot of strength. Those qualities are still there even though they may have been temporarily overwhelmed. They will re-emerge as you get some rest, get connected to those who can help and discover some new strategies for dealing with these pressures.

Second, the pressures and pain that have overwhelmed you right now will not last at such a high level—in the vast majority of cases. As a teenager you will face lots of challenges because that’s the way it works and it’s how you grow and develop—but they won’t often approach what you are feeling now and you will continue to develop your abilities to master them.

Step #4: Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

Suicidal thoughts can become even stronger if you have taken drugs or alcohol.

It’s tempting to use drugs or alcohol to make the thoughts go or diminish the pain. But adding these chemicals to your body actually just makes it a lot harder to think clearly and they can make depressive feelings more powerful.  They can also leave you more vulnerable to impulsive thoughts and actions, which is really dangerous right now.

Step #5: Make Your Home a Safe Place

Remove, lock up or give to others things you could use to hurt yourself, such as pills, guns, knives, razors, or other sharp items, like scissors. If you are on prescription medications and thinking of taking an overdose, give your medicines to someone who can return them to you one day at a time as you need them. This protects you from impulses to harm yourself from sneaking up on you.

If you don't feel safe staying by yourself at home, go to a place where you do feel safe, like a friend's house, your parent's house, or a community center or other public place.

Help Your Helpers

This might seem like a weird thing to think about when you are feeling suicidal, but you can actually exert a lot of power in getting the help you need. Suicide scares people and few have much experience or training in helping people who are suicidal. You will probably be surprised at how many people will want to support you. You may also be surprised at how scared they are of doing or saying the wrong thing or simply not knowing what to do to be supportive.

You have a lot of power to exercise in very direct ways. For example, you can simply say things like:    

  • “You don’t have to have the answers.”
  • “You don’t even need to know exactly what to do or say.”
  • “Just stay with me.”
  • “Just help me stay on the rollercoaster and find a way back up.”
  • “Just let me know that you care."
  • “Help me get connected to others (friends, family, clergy, teachers, coaches, neighbors, etc.)”
  • “Help me make my world safe—removing things that I might use to hurt myself.”

Helping your helpers may be really important.

Staying Healthy and Managing Your Life

Longer Term Life Strategies

The strategies noted below are good strategies for recovering from suicidal thoughts/feelings or a suicide attempt.  They are also good strategies for managing your life throughout adulthood.  So, there are three reasons to engage in them.  First, they can help you recover as fully as possible from this suicidal crisis.  Second, they can prepare you to deal with any recurrence of suicidal thoughts/feelings, which sometimes ebb and flow like the tide.  Third, they are simply good life strategies.

1.  Build—and use—your support network. Talk to one or more people in your network every day even if you feel like withdrawing. Support networks are always good to have. They don’t have to be real big and they aren’t just focused on helping in crises. Particularly when you are feeling suicidal it is important to have as many connections as possible, so that you are not too dependent on any one or two connections.

A support network is like a spider’s web. You can have connections to friends, family, neighbors, teachers, coaches, your faith community, community organizations, teammates or club members, etc. There is a surprising number of possible contacts in your network.

Some connections will be really strong and some will be light. As you are feeling suicidal this is a good time to (a) be assertive in talking with people in your network and (b) adding some new people, such as counselors/therapists, helpline counselors or online organizations dedicated to helping people deal with suicidal thoughts and actions.

Note. Many or most of the people in your network won’t have much experience with suicide and may be unsure of how to support you. That’s OK. As long as they are present and care about you, you can find your way together and it will be fine even if it feels awkward. This may sound weird, but you might need to reassure the people supporting you that they are doing OK. Really. 

Also Note. Building and maintaining a support network is a life skill that we all need to lead the kind of life we want to live.  It’s not just for when you are suicidal. Support networks help us deal with the challenges of life and lead the meaningful lives we want to live.

One More Note. Avoid spending time with people who are either (a) bad influences that may lead you into unhealthy situations or behaviors or (b) people who just don’t get what you are going through, may be judgmental or dismissive of how much pain you have been in or just want to give advice.

2.  Identify the triggers that can lead to feelings of despair and suicidal thoughts. Triggers can be certain people or groups, using alcohol or drugs, anniversaries or special days, relationship stresses (including break-ups), school challenges or books/movies/music/internet sites with dark or depressive themes.  

Avoid the triggers that you can avoid and plan ahead for how to deal with those that you can’t avoid. Sometimes triggers will surprise you, but in those cases you can respond quickly if you have been paying attention to what can trigger you.  

3.  Make a safety plan. Develop a set of steps that you can follow during a suicidal crisis. It should include contact numbers for the key people and organizations in your support network. That is everything from friends and trusted adults to helplines and emergency numbers like 911. Share your plan with others so they are better prepared to help you.

You can also include notes to yourself that can provide guidance—you talking to you.  Make up your own—in your own voice—but the following are examples.

“I got through this before even though I didn’t think I could.  I’m glad I did and I can do it this time too.”

“Remember that suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems—even the most severe ones.”

“I didn’t think people would care last time, but they did—and they helped.” 

“Give yourself (me) 24 hours to see if you can find a better solution than suicide—I did it before.”

4.  Take care of yourself and manage your stress. This is pretty straightforward, but sometimes takes a good deal of discipline or changes in habits (which is hard). 

  • Eat right. Taking care of yourself starts with eating right—including not skipping meals or eating compulsively. If your eating is out of control, get professional help because eating disorders are tough to conquer. 
  •  Get enough sleep. This is really hard in high school, so this might be a tough challenge.
  • Get enough exercise. “Enough” doesn’t mean you have to train for a triathlon. The big difference is between no exercise at all and a little or moderate exercise. You can also use relaxation exercises. 
  • Make sure you get some quiet time. As with exercise, the big difference is between a little quiet time and no quiet time. You can simply take a moment to pay attention to your breathing, meditate, review what you want to do with your day, or simply think positive thoughts (about yourself or others).
  • Be very careful with your use of alcohol and drugs. Drugs and alcohol can interfere with your decision-making and problem solving abilities, increase depression, leave you vulnerable to destructive impulses and simply replace more healthy behaviors. 

5.  Continue, restart or develop new activities and interests. You may have stopped engaging in activities that were meaningful or fun for you, so it would be good to restart those activities. It would also be healthy to start some new activities. There may be some that you have always wanted to do or some that seem like they might be fun or meaningful. 

Some experimenting might be in order, so you can try new things and continue if they work for you or move on to something else. There is an impressive array of things you can explore, for example volunteering, sports, various clubs, travel, cooking, performing arts, woodworking, computer/internet activities, etc.

6.  Get treatment for medical conditions, particularly depression. Depression is highlighted here because it is such a powerful contributor to suicidal thoughts, feelings and actions—and it is a medical condition that can be treated. The right medication along with time with a therapist or counselor is a powerful combination and one that you can use to get on top of depression and gain much more control over your life. 

You may have other medical issues, such as injuries or chronic illnesses that also need medical treatment.   Don’t delay.  This is part of taking care of yourself, so that you are in the best shape possible to manage your life.


Helping Others

ACT

If You Know Someone Who Might Be Suicidal
“ACT - Better an angry friend than a dead friend” 

If you think someone is suicidal—ACT. NOW. You don’t need to be an expert to make a difference. In fact, few of us are. What you have to overcome is a set of natural reactions to the challenge:

  • You may not know what to do. 
  • You may be afraid that you will make the person angry (or angrier). 
  • You may feel that talking about suicide will make it worse. 
  • You may be afraid of being clumsy or awkward and making a mistake that makes matters worse. 
  • You may feel that getting involved will make you responsible for whether the person lives or dies.

Unfortunately those are all natural responses to facing the potential suicide of another person. Few of us are trained and experienced in supporting someone who is suicidal. That’s the bad news.

The Good News. The good news is that, to be an effective supporter, you usually don’t need to know a lot or have a lot of experience. The critical elements in supporting someone that is suicidal are:

  1. Making the connection—being yourself and listening
  2. Letting them know you care
  3. Letting them know that you won’t desert them
  4. Letting them know you will figure out what to do together (even if that is really unclear at the moment)
  5. Taking actions required if the person is in immediate danger or has already injured themselves
     

Start Here—Notes to a Suicidal Teen

Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the section written for teenagers who are feeling suicidal. It’s a good place for you to start in understanding what a suicidal teen is facing as well as some of the things you can talk about. There are sections that follow that look at causes, signs, how to assess risk and what to do.

If You Are Feeling Suicidal
Remember 5 Things

  1. The pain of life can sometimes feel like it’s overwhelming your capacity to deal with life. This is particularly true if you are suffering from depression, which is distressingly common among teenagers.
     
  2. Feeling Suicidal Does Not Mean That You Are
    • Bad
    • Weak
    • Selfish
    • A loser
    • Incompetent
    • Unworthy
       

      It Does Mean That You Are Probably

    • Temporarily overwhelmed by the pain of your life
    • Worn out from expending lots of energy to cope
    • Feeling hopeless, unconnected and out of options
       
  3. Suicide is a permanent solution for temporary problems. This is true even for the problems that feel overwhelming.
     
  4. Growing up is hard and the teenage years are an emotional rollercoaster. Remember that with rollercoasters it can be terrifying on the steep drops, but if you don’t jump off (a bad thing to do), you then head back up. Rollercoasters can be intimidating at first, but as you get more experience with them, they lose much of their power to intimidate. Life is like that, so don’t jump off right now – there will be an upturn.
     
  5. There are effective solutions for dealing with the temporary problems, even the severe ones. It doesn’t seem that way when you are feeling suicidal, particularly because you are in extreme pain, are worn out from trying to find solutions and the solutions may not be obvious—but they are there and there are people that will be very willing to help you find those solutions.

So—Stay on the Rollercoaster and take the following 5 steps in taking charge of your life in a way that doesn’t end it.
 

Causes of Teen Suicide

There are a lot of factors and feelings that can lead a teenager to take his or her life and they often gang up. Some may have been going on for a long time, which can be exhausting. Complicating these factors is the fact that most teenagers considering suicide are suffering from a mood disorder—particularly depression. 

The mix of possible feelings is impressive, for example:   

  • Feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Being worthless
  • Being worn out
  • Unconnected
  • Being a failure

The mix of possible factors leading to suicidal thoughts and actions is also impressive:

  • Break-up of friendships
  • Divorce of parents
  • Violence/abuse in the home
  • Inability to find success at school
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Rejection by friends or peers
  • Substance abuse
  • Death of someone close to the teenager
  • The suicide of a friend or someone he or she "knows" online
  • A move to a new community/school with trouble connecting
  • Rejection by a college
  • Being bullied
     

Signs of Suicidal Intent

What is problematic about some of these warning signs is that many of them are similar to behaviors that are natural for teenagers. The rollercoaster of the teenage years can easily generate behaviors that look like signs of an intent to be self-destructive. Plus, teenagers are different. Some teenagers can show a number of these signs and not be suicidal. On the other hand, some teenagers will show little and be in extreme danger of suicide.

 Don’t wonder—Ask. If you are unsure about whether someone is thinking of taking their own life—ask them. Let them know you are concerned, that you care and that you are willing to risk their anger rather than leave them unconnected.      

Statements—Direct and Indirect
People who talk about suicide, threaten suicide or call suicide crisis lines are 30 times more likely than average to kill themselves. Take suicide threats seriously.

  • "I hate my life.”
  • “I’d be better off dead.”
  • “There is no way out for me”
  • “Things will never get better”
  • “Nobody will miss me anyway”
  • “I won’t be bothering you much longer.”
  • ”You’ll be better off without me.”
  • “I wish I hadn’t been born”
  • “I’m just a burden”
  • “No one cares”
  • “What’s the point of living anyway?”
  • “I am going to kill myself.”

Note. Suicide threats can be spoken, in print (including lots of social network channels), symbolic (for instance drawings or tattoos), etc.

Previous Suicide Attempts

  • One out of three suicide deaths is not the individual’s first attempt
  • The risk for completing suicide is more than 100 times greater during the first year after an attempt

Preoccupation With Suicide
This is similar to the “statements” section, but worth teasing out. Preoccupation can be evidenced by:

  • Frequenting internet sites about suicide or death
  • Poems or stories about death, suicide or other dark themes
  • Artwork depicting dark themes
  • Consistent conversations about dark themes

Changes in Mood or Behavior
This is one of the potentially confusing areas as a lot of these feelings are a natural part of the rollercoaster of the teenage years. There is no magic advice, unfortunately. Just trust your instincts and if any are particularly intense or become chromic or too many start showing up—ACT.   

Mood

  • Sudden, abrupt changes in personality
  • Expressions of hopelessness and despair
  • Increased irritability and aggressiveness
  • Listlessness
  • Helplessness and hopelessness
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feelings of loneliness or abandonment
  • Feelings of shame, guilt, humiliation or rejection
  • Difficulty concentrating, focusing, paying attention
  • Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Increased desire to stay home from school

 

Behaviors

  • Self-injury, such as cutting
  • Declining grades and school behaviors
  • Withdrawal from family, friends and other relationships
  • Decreased interest in appearance
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Frequently complaints of being sick, particularly headaches, stomachaches or lack of energy
  • Significant weight gain or loss
  • Increased use or abuse of alcohol or drugs
  • Taking excessive risks, being reckless
  • In trouble with the school or the law
  • Sudden calm after a period of heavy stress or depression
  • Increased interest in guns/knives or gunplay/knifeplay

Making Final Arrangements
If someone is making final arrangements, this is a red flag. Not everyone who decides to commit suicide makes final arrangements, but if someone is doing so—ACT.

  • Saying good-bye to family and friends
  • Giving away favorite possessions
  • Talking about or making funeral arrangements
  • Generally putting their affairs in order
     

What to Do—Emergency/Crisis

If the person shows significant suicidal signs, has a specific plan and the means to accomplish it and says that they will commit suicide, some combination of the following actions is necessary.

The Basics

  1. Make the connection – in person if at all possible, but by phone at least
  2. Let them know you care
  3. Let them know that you won’t desert them
  4. Let them know you will figure out what to do together (even if that is really unclear)
    AND
  5. Get key adults involved
  6. Make the immediate environment safe (removing/locking drugs, guns, or knives) – or get to a safe environment
  7. Contact emergency personnel for immediate help

     

What to Do—Immediate Response—Non-Crisis

If the person is not in an immediate crisis, they may fall into one of the following categories of risk.  All of these categories should be taken seriously, but you will need to be more active for the higher risk categories.

Note. People can move from one risk level to a higher level rapidly, so stay alert.

 

Low Risk. The person has some suicidal feelings, thoughts and behaviors, but does not a have a plan and says they won’t commit suicide.

Moderate Risk. The person has some suicidal thoughts, feelings and behaviors and has a general plan, but denies that they will commit suicide.

High Risk.The person has significant suicidal thoughts, feelings and behaviors and specific plan, but denies that they will commit suicide.

Actions You Can Take

  1. Make the connection. Be pro-active. You may need to make several tries initially as people who are suicidal often don’t think they can be helped or will resist help.  You can use the phone, texts and such, or notes as well as face-to-face contacts. 
  2. Let them know you care. You may get rejected initially on this also, but you can trust that the message is getting through. Keep at it.
  3. Let them know that you won’t desert them. This needs to be stated directly and then find ways to stay in tough—the message being, “I’m still here for you.”
  4. Let them know you will figure out what to do together. This does not mean that you know what to do, but that you will walk down the path with them to find some solutions to the problems that are currently overwhelming them.  
  5. Get others involved, particularly key adults. This is critical as you should not take on the support responsibility by yourself. You can start with one trusted adult.  You can also engage appropriate peers. If possible, also help the person get connected to professional help. This is particularly important if they are suffering from depression (which will be likely). The key is to build as much of a support network as possible. Do not carry the load by yourself and do not wait to do this.
  6. Make the immediate environment safe. Even someone who does not have a significant plan and denies that they will commit suicide could be in a dangerous environment. They may have access to dangerous drugs, firearms or knives. Do what you can to work with them to make the environment safe. A sudden change in risk or impulsiveness can be deadly in an unsafe environment.

Make no deals. Never make a deal to keep a friend’s suicidal thoughts, feelings, action, or plans a secret. You cannot promise that you will not engage anyone else. You must get others involved to save your friend.

Another Resource. In the section for teenagers who are suicidal, there are five steps that are recommended for them to take in the short term. These five steps are compatible with the actions you can take (above), so you can use them as part of your work with your friend. 

Step #1: Promise Not to do Anything Destructive Right Now

Step #2: Connect with Others—Don’t Keep Suicidal Thoughts/Feelings to Yourself

Step #3: Take Heart and Remember Who You Are—People Do Get Through This

Step #4: Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

Step #5: Make Your Home a Safe Place
 

Pitfalls

There are a few pitfalls to avoid in supporting a suicidal friend.

  1. Don’t argue with a suicidal person about or whether they should commit suicide. You can let them know that you care and don’t want them to commit suicide and that suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems, but don’t get into an argument.
  2. Don’t lecture about the value of life or judge them for being temporarily overwhelmed. Judgment is the last thing they need.
  3. Don’t promise complete confidentiality. You need to get at least one adult involved and may have to hold a tough line on that as a life is at stake.
  4. Don’t get into too much problem solving too soon. The problems have become overwhelming (or the person wouldn’t be suicidal), so you can be confident that they will defeat efforts to find quick solutions. You can commit to helping find solutions, but that’s going to take time. 
  5. Do not fail to take care of yourselfSupporting a suicidal person takes a lot of courage and a lot of energy. It can also be emotionally taxing and can stimulate difficult emotions for you. It’s important for you to talk with others that you trust about your experience as well as getting rest and eating well. 

AND 

Do not blame yourself if your efforts to help are not enough to prevent a suicide. Do not take responsibility for making your friend well. You can offer a lot of support, but you can't get better for a suicidal person. He or she has to make the commitment to recover.
 

What To Do – Longer Term

Getting past a crisis is only part of the journey.  Your friend will also need to employ some longer-term strategies to manage his or her life in a healthy way. You can support them (and they will need support) by simply staying connected and helping them implement the healthy strategies.  Those strategies (from the section devoted to teenagers feeling suicidal) are the following:

  1. Build—and use—your support network
  2. Identify the triggers that can lead to feelings of despair and suicidal thoughts
  3. Make a safety plan
  4. Take care of yourself and manage your stress
  5. Continue, restart or develop new activities and interests
  6. Get treatment for medical conditions, particularly depression

More details on these strategies can be found in the section for people who are suicidal.
 

Myths and Statistics

Statistics

  1. More than one in every 10 high school students reported having attempted suicide; nearly 1 in 6 students between the ages of 12-17 have seriously considered it.
  2. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24 - after unintentional injury
  3. There are approximately 5500 suicide attempts every day by students in grades 7-12.

LGBT Youth

  1. More than 30% of LGBT youth report at least one suicide attempt within the last year.
  2. More than 50% of Transgender youth will have had at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday.

Gender Disparities—All Ages

  1. Men die by suicide four times as often as women and represent 78.8% of all U.S. suicides.
  2. Women attempt suicide two to three times as often as men.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities

  1. The highest suicide rates are among American Indian/Alaskan Natives and Non-Hispanic Whites.
  2. Asian/Pacific Islanders have the lowest suicide rates among males while Non-Hispanic Blacks have the lowest suicide rate among females.

Common Myths

“People who talk about suicide won’t really do it.”
False: Almost everyone who attempts or completes suicide has given warning signs through their words or behaviors. Do not ignore any suicide threats. Statements like “You’ll be sorry when I’m dead” or “I wish I was dead”—no matter how casually or jokingly said—may indicate serious suicidal feelings.

“If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop him/her.”
False: 
Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people do not want to die; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end their life, however overpowering, does not last forever.

“Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.”
False:
 You do not give a person ideas about suicide by talking about it. The opposite is true. If a person is depressed or unhappy, discussing their feelings openly and allowing them to express how they feel is one of the most helpful things you can do. Even if they have had suicidal thoughts, giving them permission to express those thoughts can relieve some of the anxiety and provide an avenue to recognize other ways to escape their pain and sadness.

“People who attempt suicide and do not complete suicide are just trying to get attention and are not really serious.”
False:
 To a certain degree, they are trying to get attention and help for the pain that they are experiencing. A suicide attempt, even half-hearted, is an attempt to seek help. If the person perceives their action to be a suicide attempt, then that is what it is. Any attempt, regardless of severity, must be taken seriously and help must be sought for the individual.