Carolinas HealthCare System

Behavioral Health
How to Be Helpful to Someone Who Is Threatening Suicide
Meeting Behavioral
Health Needs

A fundamental component of Carolinas HealthCare System’s continuum of care includes mental health care. A new behavioral health campus is under construction in Davidson that will help relieve the shortage of inpatient and outpatient beds.

The System is also focused on providing assistance to loved ones who may have lost someone to suicide, as well as educating the community at large about what needs to be done for anyone who may be at risk. 

Helpful phone numbers:

National Suicide Prevention Week is September 8 through September 14, 2013, surrounding World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10.

With advent of social networks and other media channels, the issue of suicide is at the forefront of public consciousness more than ever. However, the numbers of death by suicide continue to be staggeringly high.

According to the American Association of Suicidology:

  • Someone commits suicide every 14 minutes
  • It's the leading cause of death for people between 15 and 24 years old
  • Males are 3 to 4 times more likely to commit suicide than females

Alex Gnilka, PhD, manager of the Employee Assistance Program at Carolinas HealthCare System, offers lifesaving information when it comes to suicide. He says first and foremost do not ignore someone you suspect may be suicidal or severely depressed.

“If someone is suicidal, discussing it will not cause them to go through with it. Most likely, the person will open up and be glad that you care,” Dr. Gnilka said. “Just be direct with them, and be willing to listen.”

Often people are afraid to discuss suicide because they are not sure what to do or how to help if someone is at risk.

“If someone opens up to you and says they are suicidal or needs help, then call the suicide hotline, the Behavioral Health Call Center, or even 911 for assistance. Just this act alone can make a huge difference and is the best way for anyone to help,” Dr. Gnilka said.

Helping Someone Who Is Threatening Suicide

  • Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
  • Be non-judgmental. Don't debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don't lecture on the value of life.
  • Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
  • Don't dare him or her to do it.
  • Don't act shocked. This will put distance between you and the person you're trying to help.
  • Don't be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
  • Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
  • Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.

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