5 Questions to Ask a Loved One At Risk

5 Questions to Ask a Loved One At Risk

It can be scary to ask a loved one if they are at risk of suicide. There is a stigma within society that insists asking someone about suicide attempts, thoughts or plans will perpetuate the act of suicide—but this is simply not true. In fact, asking someone if they are struggling, and giving them the opportunity to share their pain with you, can actually alleviate the risk of the behaviour occurring.

If a friend or loved one has been acting uncharacteristically, either withdrawing from people or acting irrationally and stepping out in risk-taking behaviour, then you may need to ask them if they have thought about suicide. Other indicators they are thinking about it are unexplained injuries, death or self-harm related content being posted on their social media, increased substance abuse, previous suicidal thoughts or attempts and a sense of hopelessness.

Here are five questions that will help you assess the risk of a loved one carrying out the act of suicide.

1. Have you had any suicidal thoughts?

The presence of suicidal thoughts doesn’t mean a person will act on them—but it is still essential you know they are there. Suicidal thoughts will often perpetuate and can become more vivid as a person feels a greater sense of hopelessness.

Asking them this question doesn’t imply they want to suicide. Actually, finding out when the thoughts began and how prevalent they may be allows you to understand the weight of what your friend is experiencing.

2. Do you have a suicide plan?

Asking a loved one if they have a plan in place to carry out the act of suicide is essential. If they do have a plan to suicide, either a carefully constructed and well thought out plan, or a fleeting idea of what it would look like, you know they are high risk and immediate action needs to be taken to care for their wellbeing.

A person who has a set time and place for the act of suicide, and who has begun putting their affairs in order (writing letters, cancelling registrations etc.) is at extremely high risk of carrying out the act of suicide.

3. Do you have access to any weapons or means of suicide?

A person who has already acquired a weapon or means of suicide is at serious risk. Other people who know weapons or tools are available in their work place or at a friends or relatives place are also in danger.

If your loved one has access to a weapon, ask them how regularly this occurs, if they have considered how they would access it and the likelihood of this.

4. Have you felt like this before?

Understanding if your loved one has struggled with suicidal thoughts in the past will help you to support them and keep them alive.  Ask if they have attempted suicide in the past, or thought about it. See if they have previously harmed themselves, and if they’ve created a suicide plan in the past.

If this has occurred in the past, the risk for your loved one increases, but this does not mean they won’t be open to help.

5. Why have you chosen to stay alive?

Up to this point, your loved one has made the decision to stay alive. Irrespective of their struggles, they have chosen to remain. When people have suicidal thoughts, they resist them for any number of reasons: their love for family and friends, obligations, fear, the hope that things will change.

Take this reason and run with it. If a person is afraid of dying, they don’t want to die—they are likely exhausted and don’t know how to fight anymore. If family or friends is their motivation, remind them of the profound love they experience and the future events and moments they want to witness. If obligations are keeping someone alive, ask them what these mean and how they affect the people near them.

If a loved one answers yes to one or more of these questions, they need further help. Please call 000 or 911 in an emergency. If they are experiencing thoughts of suicide, or you are concerned for their wellbeing, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.  For crisis hotlines in other countries, visit Hope Movement’s International database here.

Your G.P. and/or a Professional Counsellor can give you the additional support you need. Visit Hope Movement to find support near you. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or you can book an appointment press Book Now to book in our online diary.

How to Deal with Depression

How-to-Deal-with-Depression

Beyond the statistics that tell us depression is the most common mental illness in the western world, we know it is an illness that inhibits millions of people. It drains you of energy, sapping the light from your life and makes you feel isolated and alone. This week Colleen was asked by Australian Counselling to share some of her advice on how to deal with depression. Joining other therapists, she gives us some simple and effective advice on the steps we can take to recover from depression and feel healthy and motivated again.

Focusing on the more creative methods of working through depression; including colouring in, going for a walk and embracing your inner child, she shares some often looked over tips that can brighten your mood and assist you as you walk through it.

You can see Colleen’s tips on how to deal with depression and the thoughts of seven other counsellors by reading the blog here.

If you are struggling with feelings of sadness, despair, depression, severe anxiety or thoughts of suicide, it is important that you seek professional health assistance as soon as possible to help you recover.

Your G.P. and/or a Professional Counsellor can give you the additional support you need. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or you can book an appointment with Colleen or Duncan or press Book Now to book in our online diary.

Anxiety: 4 Strategies to Help Calm You

I am feeling sad today as I am confronted by news of another act of violence and suffering at Sandy Hook in the state of Connecticut, USA. Expressions of grief, tributes, words of outrage and anger and numerous photos saturate social media and as a world community we struggle once again to come to terms with this senseless tragedy. How do you try to make sense of this? How does this tragedy impact you? Are you able to acknowledge the tragedy and at the same time, continue to function throughout the day and the days to  come, without the emotions you feel (perhaps sadness or anger)   having a disabling affect? If your answer is yes, then you can continue to read this blog from the perspective of what to be aware of if you know someone whose emotional reaction to the tragedy has a crippling impact on them. If, on the other hand, you are reading this because you are finding it difficult to contain the emotions you feel, I invite you to read on and use these 4 strategies to help you calm yourself.

1. Avoid media/social media if you are aware that what you are reading and listening to is increasing your emotional distress.

Have a break from your electronic devices and  turn your attention to other activities.

2. Do something that soothes you.

Here are some ideas: calming music, candles, spending time with your pet, taking a long walk at a favourite place (a beach, lake, park or outdoor location that has a particularly calming affect), look at some photos, sit quietly and watch nature, draw or colour in, have a bubble bath. I would love to hear other ideas to add to this list.

3. Write down what you are feeling.

You can write it in a special journal or on a piece of paper. Pretend that you are talking to your closest friend and tell them how you feeling, why you are feeling it and write back the response you would expect to hear from your friend. You can keep it and go back to it whenever you feel the need to write down what you are feeling.

4. Try this mindfulness exercise:

Notice your physical sensations, and  where in your body they are located.

If you are feeling sad or angry for instance, notice where that feeling is in your body; pretend you are an anthropologist observing a new species:

What does the feeling look like?

– colour?                                – shape?                              – size?

– solid and hard or soft and pliable?                             – any other features?

Try drawing the feeling/s

Remember that you don't have to be an artist, have some fun with your creature.

Play with the creature in your imagination

Can you make the creature smaller?

Focus on the image and pretend that you are changing the lens on your camera so that the creature is moving into the distance and getting smaller

Now let it disappear in a puff of smoke

Now deeply inhale

Now exhale (do this more than once if you need to)

Now notice how you are feeling.

If this exercise has been helpful, practice it whenever you are feeling overwhelmed with the emotion you feel.

 

If you continue to struggle with feelings of sadness, despair, severe anxiety or thoughts of suicide, it is important that you seek professional health assistance as soon as possible to help you recover. Talking to your G.P. and/or a counsellor can give you the additional support you need to help you.

If you would like to speak to Colleen for additional support you can contact her on 0434 337 245 or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com to book an appointment.