Supporting someone after a suicide attempt
Having someone close to you attempt suicide can be a horrible and traumatic experience.1 Many of us have trouble knowing what to say or do. It is natural to have different feelings, thoughts and concerns. Creating a safe space where the person feels loved, accepted and supported can help.2
Below is a list of things that you can do to help support someone who has attempted suicide:
The first few days:
- Be available and let the person know that you are there for them when they are ready and that you will listen.3
- Help them to establish a sleep, meal and exercise routine, this will help them get a sense of control over their life.3
- Support the person in attending their appointments with health professionals.3
- Remove things in and around the house that they could potentially harm themselves with. Let them know why you have decided to do this.3
- Encourage them not to use any alcohol and non-prescribed drugs at this time.3
- Offer to join them in physical activity (if they are physically well enough to do so) or take them to places they usually enjoy, this could include the beach, to lunch or to see a movie.3
- Offer to help gather some information and resources.3
In the long term:
- Try to understand their feelings and perspective.
- Support the person by helping explore options and realistic plans to help with their emotional health.
- Make sure there are other friends and family members around to help you support the person.
- Remember that you are not a professional counsellor, psychiatrist or doctor. However, encourage them to seek professional support available to them.
Guiding their way back is a resource developed by beyondblue which provides information and thoughts based on shared experience and knowledge for those supporting someone who has attempted suicide.
Looking after yourself
Remember that it is impossible to watch someone 24/7 and supporting someone who has attempted suicide can be emotionally exhausting. It is important that in this process you also look after yourself and get the support that you might need. Remember that this is not something that you have to deal with by yourself, talk to a professional or join a local support group or check out how to maintain your mental health and wellbeing.
Beyond Blue [Internet]. Hawthorn (Australia): Beyond Blue; Guiding their way back [n.d.; cited 2017 Nov 27]. Available from:https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/suicide-prevention/recovery-and-support-strategies/support-after-a-suicide-attempt/guiding-their-way-back
Suicide Call Back Service [Internet]. On the Line; Supporting someone after a suicide attempt [n.d.; cited 2017 Nov 27]. Available from: https://www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au/im-worried-about-someone/supporting-someone-after-a-suicide-attempt/
Beyond Blue [Internet]. Hawthorn (Australia): Beyond Blue; Guiding their way back: A resource for people who are supporting someone after a suicide attempt (PDF) [July 2016; cited 2017 Nov 27]. Available from: http://resources.beyondblue.org.au/prism/file?token=BL/1161