If you’re taking care of someone who is depressed or suicidal there are 3 things you need to know about supporting them effectively. These steps will help you help them and stay mentally fit while doing so.
Suicide support: What you need to know about helping your loved one
#1. Get mental health support for yourself: When you fly on a commercial flight most airlines have flight attends that walk you through safety procedures prior to lift off. They include how to use your oxygen mask and parachute. All of them advise that when flying with a baby or small child that the guardian must equip himself or herself first with safety gear before helping the child.
It’s the same with helping a loved one through suicide or depression. You need to be mentally stable. You need to understand how to effectively help and communicate with that person. You need to seek counsel yourself to deal with the emotions that come up from you.
You also need to make sure you clear yourself of all the mental crap that’s going on for you. If you start crying when they need strength, you won’t be able to provide them what they need.
Where to go for help? Align yourself with an accredited therapist your trust. This could be a life coach, psychotherapist, social worker, suicide prevention specialist, psychologist or psychiatrist. Many workplaces also offer this kind of support. Ask your employers about mental health benefits.
#2. Make choices for them: Whether you like it or not, you need to appoint yourself as the decision-maker, the health advocate, for your loved one. You can do this with permission, or silently take on the job without it.
Either way, depending on his mental state his judgement could be off of what he needs. Use your judgement. Ask others what they think. Ask professionals what they think. Then, make intelligent decisions that are in line with getting him help.
Go with them to appointments. Speak on their behalf when they can’t. Call the shots. In some circumstances they don’t have to like what you are doing. All your actions need to be in line with what’s best for the patient (your loved one) and how to help save them from making a mistake they can’t take back like suicide.
#3. Never leave someone who is suicidal alone. If you are concerned about your loved one or they have said to you that they feel suicidal, do not leave them alone. This doesn’t mean it’s your job to watch them. The easiest way to get someone into the care they need is to call 911. At a hospital they will have access to immediate care from professionals.
If they are currently working, you can contact their employer or insurance provider and find out what resources are available.
If you live in Canada, you can file a Form 2. This temporarily restricts the rights of your loved one for 72 hours. A police officer will take them away and bring them to a hospital where they will receive a psychiatric evaluation before being permitted to leave hospital.
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