My son, Tyler, lost his life to suicide in December, 2009. His passing was a highly personal, emotional family event. It has taken me many sleepless nights to come to grips with our family’s loss. Over the years, his loss can be especially tough on holidays like Fathers’ Day.
As time went by, I began to recover and decided to honor my son’s memory by helping others who are at risk. I have found that the best way to prevent suicide is by communication and education with a message of hope.
To this end, I have become a suicide prevention trainer and AFSP volunteer. This training and experience has taught me that most suicidal individuals give warning signs or signals of their struggles. Suicide can be prevented by recognizing and responding to these clues. If you believe that a friend or family member is suicidal, show them you care and utilize a trained professional to address the issues.
As we approach Fathers’ Day, it’s a perfect time to educate yourself on suicide prevention. Here are some things to remember:
- Know the warning signs: They can include; talking about suicide, seeking out lethal means, preoccupation with death, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, self-loathing, self-hatred, getting affairs in order ,saying goodbye, withdrawing from others, self-destructive behavior or a sudden sense of calm. The more warning signs observed the greater the risk. Take all signs seriously!
- Ask the question: Talking to a friend or family member about their suicidal thoughts and feelings can be extremely difficult for anyone. You can’t make a person suicidal by showing that you care. In fact, giving a suicidal person the opportunity to express his or her feelings can provide relief from the hopelessness or helplessness they suffer and may prevent a suicide attempt or death. If you find it hard to ask the question, find someone who can.
- Refer them for help: Suicidal people often believe they cannot be helped, so you may have to do more. Listen to the problem and give them your full attention. Remember, suicide is not the problem, only the solution to a perceived insoluble problem. Do not rush to judgment. Offer hope in any form. Get them to accept your help. The best referral involves taking the person directly to someone who can help. The next best referral is getting a commitment from them to accept help, and then making the arrangements to get that help. The third best referral is to give referral information and try to get a good faith commitment from them not to complete or attempt suicide. Any willingness to accept help at some time, even if in the future, is a good outcome. If you feel that someone’s in imminent danger, always call 911.
The National Suicide Prevention help line is 1-800-273-TALK
The happy memories of Tyler and the wonderful person he was, gives me strength every day. He’s lives in my heart forever.
Be the one to start the conversation and save lives.
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