Suicide Guide

Child Dedications

Sunday, March 24

Suicide Situation Guide

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18
When we learn that someone in our community is contemplating suicide, we have an important opportunity as the church to respond to their need and introduce them to the hope of Christ. Navigating a suicide situation can be intimidating, so we’ve created this guide to equip you as you serve. Read below to learn how to watch for warning signs of suicide, assess risk levels, and take action. God can use you to save someone’s life!

Watch for Warning Signs:
There are several red flags that indicate someone may be considering suicide. As you serve, look out for the following warning signs:
Verbal: saying things like, “I just want to end it all,” “I feel trapped,” “The pain is unbearable,” “I don’t have a reason to live,” or “I’m just a burden on people now.”
Mood: experiencing signs of depression, anxiety, apathy, or rage.
Behavioral: bingeing (alcohol, drugs, or other destructive behaviors), giving away prized possessions, withdrawing socially, oversleeping, and self-harming (e.g., cutting).
Emotional: feeling intense self-hatred, hopelessness, shame, bottled-up anger, or desire for revenge.
Medical: being diagnosed with a mental health disorder or having a history of previous suicide attempts.

Other potential precursors to suicide include a history of abuse (particularly sexual abuse), lack of a strong support system, job stress, divorce, legal trouble, chronic illness, financial strain, the death of a loved one, and trigger dates (anniversaries of important events, holidays, etc.). These factors don’t necessarily cause suicide, but failing to cope with them in a healthy way can lead to thoughts that suicide is the only option to end the pain.

Assess the Risk Level:
How do we know how serious a suicide threat really is? The truth is, we can’t—so we should always take a suicide situation seriously, even if we suspect it might just be a cry for attention.

Here are four factors that indicate professional intervention is needed right away:
Intent: “I want to end my life.”
Plan: “Here’s how I’m going to do it.”
Means: “I have access to what I need to do this.”
Timeline: “I have picked out a day and time for this to happen.”

If two or more of these factors are in place, or if the person says they are in immediate danger of committing suicide, urge the guest to contact their emergency services, ask your Digital Care Team Leader to request help from the staff Care Pastor, Ryan Burkart.

Take Action:

In your interactions with a suicidal person, it’s important to provide a listening ear, a caring prayer, and helpful resources. Follow these steps to guide the conversation:

Ask → Notify → Listen → Pray → Resource → Follow up

1. Ask:
If you suspect someone might be suicidal, but you aren’t sure, it’s all right to talk to them about your concerns.
It’s a myth that this will plant the idea in their mind—in fact, they’re often hoping someone will ask since it’s a difficult subject to bring up. You can approach this topic sensitively by saying something like, “I’m worried about you. Have you ever thought about harming yourself or taking your life?”

2. Notify:
If you encounter a suicide situation, notify your team leader immediately.
Let your leader know if the person has expressed intent, a plan, access to means, and/or a timeline. If the person you’re talking to is comfortable with it, invite your team leader into the conversation so you can talk to them together.

3. Listen:
Encourage the person to tell you as much or as little as they’re comfortable sharing about their situation.
Show empathy by repeating what they say back to them and telling them how proud you are of them for opening up to you. Keep them talking by asking clarifying questions and questions about their life. Above all, show care and loving concern for the person and the difficulties they’re facing.

4. Pray:
Acknowledge the situation and let them know you would like to pray before you take any next steps.

“Before we move any further, I would like to pray over you.”

Let the person know that God cares about them and their situation and that you’d love to pray with them to ask for His help. Here is a prayer example:
“Lord, I lift up _____ in this moment. Let them know right now how much God loves them and values them. Bring them your healing, comfort, and hope for the future! I pray that they would have the strength and courage to seek help when they feel overwhelmed. I pray that they would know that you’re always in control even when life seems out of control. I’m believing that today will be the first day of a brand new chapter in their life! Amen”

5. Resource:
Before ending your conversation, provide the person with some helpful resources to support them.
Remove the stigma and empower them to call one of the following numbers. Encourage them to open their address book on their phone, grab a piece of paper, etc and SAVE the following number to their contacts:
Crisis Text Line: crisistextline.org or text 741741
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: call 9-8-8

*** If they are scared that a friend or family member may see these numbers in their phone, encourage them to save the phone # under an alias like “John Smith”. ***

They can also find a local counselor: findtreatment.samhsa.gov

If they are local to the NKY/Cincinnati area, you can equip them with the following resources:
Resources for those local to NKY/Cincinnati only:
Mental Health Services:
Aaron W. Perlman Center – (513) 636-4610
Center Clinic – (513) 558-5823
Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services – (513) 354-5200
Mental Health America of Northern Kentucky and Southwest Ohio – (859) 431-1077

For resources outside the U.S., search by country at blog.opencounseling.com/suicide-hotlines/

6. Personally Connect with them.
Tell them that you admire their courage to reach out! That’s a huge step.
Ask for an email address from them so our staff can share with them scriptures and messages to help them moving forward.

Feel free to share with them the following Bible verses to encourage them:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. ” (Matthew 11:28-30)
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. (Psalm 139:14)
Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise. (Jeremiah 17:14)
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. (Psalm 94:18-19)

Encouraging messages on our YouTube channel include:
How to Survive A Mental Breakdown
Having Courage to Fight Life’s Battles
Are You Looking For God?
How To Heal from Toxic Influences.

7. Follow Up:
People in crisis situations need continual support, so it’s crucial for us to follow up with them after the service. Let them know that you’d love to continue the conversation, then ask if you can have their email address or any other contact information. Work with your leader to develop a follow-up plan so you can continue praying for the person and suggesting additional resources. Your continued support and friendship will mean more than you know.

Final Thoughts:
While our support can’t (and shouldn’t) ever take the place of professional help from a licensed counselor, God can certainly use you to impact a person in crisis. Cover your serving time in prayer and know that the 7 Hills Church staff is always here to support you!
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