Experts: Suicide threats are serious

When a person threatens suicide or shows clear signs of being deeply depressed, the situation should always be taken seriously, mental health professionals say.
Tom Jackson
Nov 16, 2013
Some say suicide threats are bids for attention, but that’s not correct, said Karen Russell, site director for Firelands Counseling and Recovery Services of Erie and Ottawa County.

“They are expressions of extreme distress,” Russell said. “That needs to be attended to and dealt with.”

Get the person help immediately by taking him or her to the hospital emergency room, calling 911 or otherwise summoning help, said Dr. Upender Gehlot, a psychiatrist at Fisher-Titus Medical Center.

On Sunday, a 26-year-old Huron woman, Ryan Boldman, died in an apparent suicide. A police investigation showed she had made suicidal statements earlier in the day, said Huron police Chief Bob Lippert.

As an alternative to taking the person to an emergency room or calling 911, you can take a person to the doctor or call a suicide hotline, Gehlot said. Any hospital can supply that phone number.

If you need help or if the threat seems immediate, call police to get the person to the emergency room, Russell said.

It’s a good idea not to leave the person alone until he or she gets help, so you may need to enlist other people, she said. It’s a good idea to make sure the person does not have access to guns, knives or other means of harm.

Gehlot said a qualified mental health professional can evaluate the person and determine if the risk is mild, moderate or severe. He cautioned that it’s impossible to predict what someone will do.

“Nobody can predict a suicide,” he said. “You can only do risk assessment.”

Suicide warning signs
• Talking about wanting to die.

• Looking for a way to kill oneself.

• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose.

• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.

• Talking about being a burden to others.

• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.

• Acting anxious, agitated or reckless.

• Sleeping too little or too much.

• Withdrawal or feeling isolated.

• Rageful or talking about seeking revenge.

• Displaying extreme mood swings.

Source: Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide website

 

If a person shows warning signs:
• Do not leave the person alone. q#Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.

• Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).

• Take the person to an emergency room or place to seek help from a medical or mental health professional.

• Experts: Suicide should be taken seriously