Well, what do we mean by “putting in time and space?” As we continue though the 5 steps for helping someone struggling with suicidal ideation during National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, we will be discussing how to keep someone who is having thoughts of suicide safe by putting time and distance between the person and their chosen method of harming themselves. And this year, the #BeThe1To campaign has adjusted their steps this year to help us stay connected during physical distancing.
KEEP THEM SAFE
Use the same questions as you normally would to determine if the person has considered how they would kill themselves, and if they have access to means.
The same principles of putting time and space between the person and lethal means still apply here. You can use these questions/prompts to encourage the person to distance themselves from the means.
- If the person has access to their means, have an honest conversation with them about what they could do to make it harder for them to access those means in a crisis, when they might be more inclined to act impulsively.
- If the person has the means in hand while you are talking to them, ask if they could put it away from them while you talk. Call the Lifeline together.
- After you talk, ask the person to think about the overall safety of their environment. Is there anything else in their home, like firearms, that should be protected against to put more time and space between them and the potential means, even if those means weren’t the person’s first intended plan?
As a friendly reminder, we do not encourage you to take on the role as a mental health care professional. All engagement with an at-risk individual should be designed to provide appropriate support while connecting that individual to mental health or crisis resources like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255), your local crisis center, or other local mental health providers. You can use the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) treatment services locator (1-800-662-4357 or https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/) to find resources in your area.