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When someone attempts suicide, their natural barriers to protect themselves have been broken down. You may have observed that the person had been unwell for a long time and had exhibited warning signs of suicide or you may not have observed any warning signs of suicide and the attempt was ‘out of the blue’. Whatever the situation, someone who has attempted suicide would have made the decision to suicide as a result of a number of complicated, contextual issues.
It is important to understand that after a person attempts suicide, they are at high risk of attempting suicide again. The most dangerous time for people to suicide is known to be within the immediate weeks after an attempted suicide or discharge from hospital. Therefore, it is very important that any person that has attempted suicide receives proper support from a professional counsellor and that they are not isolated from family, friends or others who will also be able to provide them with support.
It is important to offer help to someone you care about who has attempted suicide and equally important to look after yourself. You may have concerns about that person again in the future and it will be difficult to ask the hard question “Are you thinking of suicide?” but you might save a life. You might consider attending suicide prevention training with VVCS when it is offered in your region. For more information on suicide prevention training please visit the VVCS Website. Looking carefully at the material on this website will improve your capacity to help.
If you decide to offer help to someone here are some suggestions that might help:
Plan a time to talk without interruptions. Listen to him or her without judgement and reassure them that you care.
Be direct in asking “Are you thinking of suicide?” It is a myth that you put the idea into someone’s head by asking this.
Do not leave the person at risk alone or promise not to tell anyone that they are having suicidal thoughts.
Together, choose an appropriate support person – this might be a Doctor or a VVCS counsellor and offer to make and take them to an appointment.
Remember to look after yourself and seek help for yourself if needed.