Suicide Prevention Month: Responding When Someone is in Need
Chuck Dailey, Behavioral Health Therapist, Holy Rosary Healthcare
It’s a Sunday evening, you’re walking out of the movie theater with a friend, and they share they’ve been thinking about harming themselves or having thoughts of suicide. What do you do? Do you take them to the emergency room? Tell them you are there for them? Change the subject entirely? The good news is you are not alone and there are many resources to help you respond that could save a life.
Suicide is not easy to talk about, but that is the best thing you can do. If you suspect someone is suicidal – ask them. When someone reaches out, they trust you to listen. You can support them by giving your undivided attention and understanding. You will not be able fix their difficulties, but what you can do is acknowledge their pain and offer to support them, giving them the non-judgmental space and time they need to tell you about it.
September is Suicide Prevention Month – a time to educate, advocate and open up the conversation around Montana’s growing public health crisis. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 2022 resulted in the nation’s highest number of suicide related deaths on record, and the Center for Disease Control shares Montana in second in the country in mortality rates by suicide. In response, governmental and community agencies have added resources to combat this trend:
- The 988 Lifeline provides free and confidential support in emotional distress or suicidal crisis. This support is available 24/7. To talk or text simply dial 988, or chat or find out more go to 988lifeline.org.
- If it is an emergency, 911 will dispatch needed emergency service to a caller and may provide support while you wait for responders to arrive.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization. They offer a non-crisis helpline 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) available Monday Through Friday, 8 A.M. – 8 P.M. This line provides information, resource referrals and support to people living with a mental health condition, their family members, caregivers, and the public.
- The Trevor Project supports LGBTQ young people during times of crisis by providing access to crisis counselors 24/7, 365 days a year. Call 866-488-7386 or Text START to 678-678.
- Montana has a collection of prevention tools and resources for schools, LGBT Youth, Veterans, Suicide Survivors and more. All of these can be accessed free via https://dphhs.mt.gov/suicideprevention/
- Beyond the Weather: Free Counseling for the Montana Agriculture Community. Visit frontier.care/beyondtheweather or call (406) 200-8471, Press 7
At Holy Rosary Healthcare in our Emergency Department, we provide 24/7 mental health crisis support. We have trained staff experienced in helping with mental health crises and can be reached at (406) 233-2600. If there is an immediate life-threatening emergency, call 911.
When considering the hypothetical example shared above, what should you do next? If a friend or family member is actively suicidal with a plan with an intent and means to carry it out, stay with them and seek help immediately by calling 988 or 911. While the 988 response is to promote stabilization and care in the least restrictive manner, in imminent danger, 988 calls are connected to emergency services like 911.
Please know that you could be that much-needed friend to someone in crisis – be aware, be prepared, show you care!