our everyday life

How to Cope With Someone Who Has Tried to Commit Suicide

by Charles Hooper

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. Information on how to help a suicidal person abounds, including resources for caregivers. If someone threatens self-harm, most states have laws that allow involuntary commitment. If you live with or care for someone who has made a suicide attempt, there are ways to cope while helping that person at the same time.

Safety First, Always

Loving a suicidal friend or family member, especially if you live with him, makes having a normal life tremendously challenging. Devising a care plan for both of you can help. Start by minimizing the risk of another attempt. Don't leave her alone. Because firearms are the leading method of suicide, eliminate them. Keep all medications, prescribed or not, under lock and key. Look through the house and foil the opportunity for your loved one to hang himself, set a fire, consume toxic substances or use a car for a weapon. You can't foresee or eliminate all threats, but you can make suicide more difficult. The extra time she spends looking for a method gives you more time to find help.

Provide Elemental Care

Becoming a care manager may give you a sense of control. Ensuring that medications are taken properly, that therapy and doctor's appointments are kept and that your loved one eats and hydrates properly, stays clean and remains active will keep you busy. Be careful though, because such intense involvement is not easy.

Care for Caregivers

Giving so much of yourself may foment resentment and hostility and adversely affect your own mental and physical health, so remember to take care of yourself. You can't care for other people properly if you're malnourished, sleep deprived or neglecting your own medical issues. If friends and family offer reliable help, accept it. Getting distance from a challenging situation is often the best way to see through it. Keep routines intact, and if you have hobbies, appointments or trips planned, try to keep up with them. Most important, ease up on yourself. You're probably providing more help than may seem apparent, and unwarranted feelings of guilt are normal.

Know When to Call for Help

Although you can take some comfort in knowing that only about 10 percent of people who try to kill themselves reattempt it, the person you care for may try again. Educate yourself on warning signs to watch for. The most notable include depression, talking or writing about suicide, dramatic mood changes, a decline in performance or a loss of interest in things that normally matter. Certain people are at greater risk to repeat an attempt. Men generally, and elderly men in particular, are most prone, but you can't live with generalizations. If you believe that suicide is imminent, call 911.

About the Author

Charles Hooper began writing as a career in 2009. Since then he has published a nonpartisan political advocacy book and hundreds of articles. An honors graduate from the University of North Carolina at Asheville where he concentrated in sociology and political science, he later earned a Masters degree in social work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Photo Credits

  • Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images