For most of my life, I’ve wished that I had some sort of a handbook for being a friend. I think I do a pretty decent job (although, I suppose you’d have to check with my friends on that one), but there’s no way to be there for someone perfectly all the time.
I mean, how many times have I told a friend I knew how they felt without really having any idea whatsoever?
How many times have I just jumped to giving advice and solving the problem when all they needed was a sounding board?
How many times did I know someone was struggling, but I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything at all?
The truth is that there’s no perfect way to be a friend, and that’s especially true when you’re trying to help a friend admit they need help, seek that help, get the help, and manage their recovery. There are way too many variables in play.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little guide for that journey?
This post is part of a Suicide Prevention Month blog series. Read the other blogs here. Please note: This piece talks about a specific experience regarding suicidal thoughts and hospitalizations. Not all experiences will be or are the same.
When someone is actively suicidal, we often tell them to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call 911, or go to the local Emergency Room. These are all correct responses, but they are also scary, big steps for someone in a mental health crisis to take. I am going to try to demystify what happens at the emergency room when you go there for suicidal thoughts and planning by sharing my own experiences.
After telling the ER staff the reason why I was there, I was evaluated.
Whenever you go into the ER, for whatever reason, you tell the staff why you are there. You can word this however you want: I am feeling suicidal, I have a suicide plan, I’m having suicidal thoughts, I’m feeling really depressed, etc. I went with my parents, so they talked to the staff for me because I was unable to. (If you feel as though you need support, it’s a good idea to go with your parents or guardians or someone you trust.)
In my visits to the ER, they have had a mental health crisis professional come to evaluate me. The evaluation is assessing your suicide risk to determine what level of care you need. This means that you should be extremely honest with the person- they are just trying to get you the help that you need and that fits your situation. I was asked if I have a plan, if I’ve had previous attempts/thoughts/hospitalizations, what medications I am on (if any), any issues going on in my life, and other questions to determine my mental state.Continue Reading
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