Portland, OR. “If you need help, please call.” That’s the message from counselors at the local suicide prevention nonprofit, Lines for life — calling them is free and confidential.

SUICIDE LIFELINE
Call 800-273-8255
Text 273TALK to 839863.

When famous individuals like Kate Spade or Anthony Bourdain commit suicide, experts worry that media coverage might prompt others to try to solve a temporary problem with an all too permanent, and tragic, solution. There were, for example, more calls than usual to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, (1-800-273-8255) after the death of Robin Williams.

Lines for Life is a regional nonprofit dedicated to preventing substance abuse and suicide that offers help and hope to individuals and communities, and promotes mental health for all. When a crisis arises or support is needed, counselors are available 24/7/365 to intervene with personalized help. Here’s a video about the service:

Experts suggest that you take the time to check in with friends and loved ones. Ask them how they’re really feeling. And if you’re worried that someone you know might be thinking about suicide, here’s how & why the 5 steps of #BeThe1To can help. The five action steps for communicating with someone who may be suicidal are supported by evidence in the field of suicide prevention:

  1. ASK

How – Asking the question “Are you thinking about suicide?” communicates that you’re open to speaking about suicide in a non-judgmental and supportive way. Asking in this direct, unbiased manner, can open the door for effective dialogue about their emotional pain and can allow everyone involved to see what next steps need to be taken. Other questions you can ask include, “How do you hurt?” and “How can I help?” Do not ever promise to keep their thoughts of suicide a secret.

The flip side of the “Ask” step is to “Listen.” Make sure you take their answers seriously and not to ignore them, especially if they indicate they are experiencing thoughts of suicide. Listening to their reasons for being in such emotional pain, as well as listening for any potential reasons they want to continue to stay alive, are both incredibly important when they are telling you what’s going on. Help them focus on their reasons for living and avoid trying to impose your reasons for them to stay alive.

Why – Studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts. In fact, studies suggest the opposite: findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation.

  1. KEEP THEM SAFE

How – First of all, it’s good for everyone to be on the same page. After the “Ask” step, and you’ve determined suicide is indeed being talked about, it’s important to find out a few things to establish immediate safety. Have they already done anything to try to kill themselves before talking with you? Does the person experiencing thoughts of suicide know how they would kill themselves? Do they have a specific, detailed plan? What’s the timing for their plan? What sort of access to do they have to their planned method?

Why – Knowing the answers to each of these questions can tell us a lot about the imminence and severity of danger the person is in. For instance, the more steps and pieces of a plan that are in place, the higher their severity of risk and their capability to enact their plan might be. Or if they have immediate access to a firearm and are very serious about attempting suicide, then extra steps (like calling the authorities or driving them to an emergency department) might be necessary. The Lifeline can always act as a resource during these moments as well if you aren’t entirely sure what to do next.

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health notes that reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal means (or chosen method for a suicide attempt) is an important part of suicide prevention. A number of studies have indicated that when lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide rates by that method decline, and frequently suicide rates overall decline. Research also shows that “method substitution” or choosing an alternate method when the original method is restricted, frequently does not happen. The myth “If someone really wants to kill themselves, they’ll find a way to do it” often does not hold true if appropriate safety measures are put into place. The Keep Them Safe step is really about showing support for someone during the times when they have thoughts of suicide by putting time and distance between the person and their chosen method, especially methods that have shown higher lethality (like firearms and medications).

  1. BE THERE

How – This could mean being physically present for someone, speaking with them on the phone when you can, or any other way that shows support for the person at risk. An important aspect of this step is to make sure you follow through with the ways in which you say you’ll be able to support the person – do not commit to anything you are not willing or able to accomplish. If you are unable to be physically present with someone with thoughts of suicide, talk with them to develop some ideas for others who might be able to help as well (again, only others who are willing, able, and appropriate to be there). Listening is again very important during this step – find out what and who they believe will be the most effective sources of help.

Why – Being there for someone with thoughts of suicide is life-saving. Increasing someone’s connectedness to others and limiting their isolation (both in the short and long-term) has shown to be a protective factor against suicide. Thomas Joiner’s Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicide highlights connectedness as one of its main components – specifically, a low sense of belonging. When someone experiences this state, paired with perceived burdonsomeness (arguably tied to “connectedness” through isolating behaviors and lack of a sense of purpose) and acquired capability (a lowered fear of death and habituated experiences of violence), their risk can become severely elevated.

In the Three-Step Theory (or more commonly known as the Ideation-to-Action Framework), David Klonsky and Alexis May also theorize that “connectedness” is a key protective factor, not only against suicide as a whole, but in terms of the escalation of thoughts of suicide to action. Their research has also shown connectedness acts as a buffer against hopelessness and psychological pain.

By “being there,” we have a chance to alleviate or eliminate some of these significant factors.

  1. HELP THEM CONNECT

How – Helping someone with thoughts of suicide connect with ongoing supports (like the Lifeline, 800-273-8255) can help them establish a safety net for those moments they find themselves in a crisis. Additional components of a safety net might be connecting them with supports and resources in their communities. Explore some of these possible supports with them – are they currently seeing a mental health professional? Have they in the past? Is this an option for them currently? Are there other mental health resources in the community that can effectively help?

One way to start helping them find ways to connect is to work with them to develop a safety plan. This can include ways for them identify if they start to experience significant, severe thoughts of suicide along with what to do in those crisis moments. A safety plan can also include a list of individuals to contact when a crisis occurs. The My3 app is a safety planning and crisis intervention app that can help develop these supports and is stored conveniently on your smartphone for quick access.

Why – Impact of Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline found that individuals that called the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline were significantly more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful by the end of calls handled by Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training-trained counselors. These improvements were linked to ASIST-related counselor interventions, including listening without judgment, exploring reasons for living and creating a network of support.

  1. FOLLOW UP

How – After your initial contact with a person experiencing thoughts of suicide, and after you’ve connected them with the immediate support systems they need, make sure to follow-up with them to see how they’re doing. Leave a message, send a text, or give them a call. The follow-up step is a great time to check in with them to see if there is more you are capable of helping with or if there are things you’ve said you would do and haven’t yet had the chance to get done for the person.

Why – This type of contact can continue to increase their feelings of connectedness and share your ongoing support. There is evidence that even a simple form of reaching out, like sending a caring postcard, can potentially reduce their risk for suicide.

Studies have shown a reduction in the number of deaths by suicide when following up was involved with high risk populations after they were discharge from acute care services. Studies have also shown that brief, low cost intervention and supportive, ongoing contact may be an important part of suicide prevention. Please visit our Follow-Up Matters page for more.

This is a list of SUICIDE WARNING SIGNS

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

Lines for Life has many local services for different types of individuals:

“Our highly trained staff and volunteers provide immediate assistance, compassionate support, and resource referrals that can put you on a path to healing.”

SUICIDE LIFELINE
Call 800-273-8255
Text 273TALK to 839863

 

 

 

 

Alcohol and Drug Helpline

Call 800-923-4357
Text RecoveryNow to 839863

Crisis Worker On the Phone

The Alcohol and Drug Helpline serves anyone who needs information, support or access to resources and treatment for alcohol or drug use. If you or someone you know needs help, the Alcohol and Drug Helpline is free, confidential, and available 24/7/365!

Call or text us for help understanding or dealing with alcohol and drug use or addiction. When you call us, we listen and support. We provide hope, referrals, resources, and information. Our highly trained staff and volunteers provide immediate assistance, non-judgmental listening, and compassionate support that can put you on a path to healing. 

Military Helpline:

GET HELP
Call 888-457-4838
Text MIL1 to 839863

Support for service members, veterans, and their families that is independent of any branch of the military or government.

The Military Helpline operates 24/7/365 and gives free, confidential support to service members, veterans and their families. Answered by veterans and others trained in military culture, our crisis lines offer compassionate, non-judgmental support and, where appropriate, connect people with the referrals, resources, or treatment they need through tough times.

In 2016, Lines for Life received more than 73,000 crisis calls—over 30,000 of which were to our dedicated military crisis lines. We talk with callers about concerns such as PTSD, finances, employment, relationships, and suicidal ideation. We de-escalate 95% of the suicide phone calls we receive to help callers find a way forward without the intervention of emergency services.

Every day, 20 Veterans die by suicide. You can support Veterans, military service members, and their families by donating to Lines for Life today!

Learn more about our military crisis support at militaryhelpline.org!

For Youth

If you are under age 21 and would like to talk with a peer about alcohol and drug use or abuse, contact our YouthLine. YouthLine is a free, confidential, teen-to-teen crisis and help line.

YOUTHLINE
Call 877-968-8491
Text teen2teen to 839863
Chat at www.oregonyouthline.org

A teen-to-teen crisis and help line. Contact us with anything that may be bothering you; no problem is too big or too small! Teens available to help daily from 4-10pm Pacific Time (off-hour calls answered by Lines for Life).

Here are more links and resources:

Oregon Links:

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare

The Center for Family and Adolescent Research

Central City Concern

Citizens’ Crime Commission

Compassionate Interventions

Oregon Liquor Control Commission

Oregon Addictions and Mental Health Division

Oregon Tobacco Quit Line
1-800-QUIT-NOW

Opioids: What You Should Know, Oregon Health Authority

Safe Use of Prescription Drugs and How to Get Help

Recovery Association Project (RAP)

Serenity Homes of Oregon

YouthLine

National Links:

Above the Influence

American Chronic Pain Association

The Anti-Drug

Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth

Community Anti-Drug Coalitions
of America (CADCA)

Drug Enforcement Administration

Family-Empowerment Network

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA)

National Center on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD)

National Council on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University

Informed Families

National Institute on Drug Abuse

National Runaway Switchboard

Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)

Opioid Overdose, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Reclaiming Futures

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Stop Alcohol Abuse.Gov

Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Troubled Teens

United States Office of Juvenile Justice and
Delinquency Prevention

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