Where to go from here?
When I took a CPR course a few months ago, the first question the instructor asked was, “Who are you most likely to use CPR on?” We sheepishly looked around until one brave soul raised her hand and said, “Our families.” Bingo. The people closest to us often have the best chance at saving us.
Whether it’s a heart attack or suicidal thoughts, one of the most effective ways to save a life is when the people who know us best and care about us most have the skills to help or quickly get us to someone who can. It’s these people who would benefit from mental health resources that teach how to assess for suicide, to notice changes in mood, or ask questions that encourage a person to share instead of withdraw. And they’d benefit from these skills long before a crisis—probably during a health class or even a job orientation.
If there is one certainty we’ve learned from decades of treating individuals contemplating suicide, it’s that regardless of how deep the pain, often ambivalence about choosing to end one’s life runs deeper. Sometimes the right person with the right skills at the right time can tip the scales toward life.