Sorrow and Silence- Breaking boundaries and talking about suicide.

Suicide can effect any one.  It is a conversation that is often avoided because it is difficult but extremely important.  Winter is easily an isolating time for people deep in depression.  Mke Mindbody Wellness has attended the Prevent Suicide Greater Milwaukee conference to receive QPR training for preventing suicide.  We want you to know the basics so you too recognize when someone you needs help.

prevent suicide wisconsin

The message is simple: Do not be afraid to ask someone if they have thought about committing suicide. 

As members of the mental healthcare community, we want to share with you the most basic guidelines for helping someone whom you believe may be spiraling into a deep depression or state of hopelessness.  If you are concerned about the safety of someone or see them losing their ability to cope with life, it is always a good idea to engage and ask if they are thinking about suicide.  

Those who are at highest risk for suicide are the least likely to ask for help.  The person most likely to prevent this suicide is someone the person already knows- not an outsider, trained therapist, or prevention call line. Familiar people are influential and can encourage someone at risk to accept help.  Who are influential people?  Those who have frequent and sustained relationships with an individual (spouses, partners, friends, employers, coworkers, siblings, bartenders, etc.)  Ask questions, persuade them, and get them to help.

It may feel "taboo" or intrusive to ask someone if they are feeling suicidal.  This is dangerous and only perpetuates that silence that can be unbearable to someone who needs help and is afraid or unwilling to ask.  With high publicity teen suicides, we can gain a teaching moment- insights into how we can treat people better in the future by reaching out and asking them:

  • Have you been thinking about suicide?
  • Have you thought about how you would do it? Do you have a plan?
  • Have you ever tried to kill yourself?
  • How long have you felt this way?
  • Have you told anybody else about this?
  • I care what happens to you and I think you need help. I want to help you find the help you need

Never assume that:

  • He/She should ask for help
  • Mental healthcare services are there
  • He/She has the crisis hotline number (even if you gave it to them)

Strong warning signs:

  • "I've had it! I'm going to kill myself!"
  • "Being dead is best for me right now."

Weak warning signs: (suggestive) Engage in conversation. 

  • "Everyone would be better off if I was gone."  (Are you going away? Vacation?)
  • "Have the boss send my last check to my so-called wife."  (I did not know you were quitting… Is everything ok?)
  • "I can't sleep, I've had it with this shit!" (That is terrible. Are you going to be ok?)

Once you have engaged this person and know how serious the risk is- you are better equipped to help them.  If you know someone is planning to commit suicide CALL 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is the national suicide prevention hotline. They will tell you how to help someone you are worried about.



Never assume that just because someone knows about services that they will utilize them.  A lot of people have trouble asking for help, so it is important to start encouraging people to accept the help that is offered.  If you see someone you know in a downward spiral or have witnessed any of the warning signs...

Reach out- ask questions- offer help.

What more can you do? Look into getting QPR training for yourself or your workplace.  Because you never know who is feeling hopeless and the most influential people are those we are familiar with, QPR training is like CPR for suicide… the more people with this training, the more people who know how to help those who are at risk.


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