All in the Family

Mental Illness and Caregiving Across the Generations

What to Do When Someone Is Suicidal

Close to one million people attempt suicide each year. Although most people thinking about committing suicide tell someone of their plan, most of us don’t know what to do when someone talks about suicide. Read More

Prayer is the Key

When you know about a person who is thinking of suicide and you simply don't know how to deal with her or him, then prayer is the solution. When you find no solution at hand, praying with full heart can make a big difference. Prayers actually send positive vibrations to the soul of that person, which can save her or him. I just recently came across a good explanation on consequences of suicide:

Hi Aaron, I lost my sister to

Hi Aaron,

I lost my sister to suicide after she struggled for four years with a very serious mental illness. My sister was 19 at the time and I was 25. It does not seem possible that the information on could be comforting to someone who lost a loved one to suicide. If you have lost a loved one to suicide and this information has been helpful to you, then that is great. I wish nothing more than for anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide to find something that helps them grieve such a terribly tragic loss. However, if you have not lost a loved one to suicide, please do not share this information.

Prayer is helpful for some people, but for other people it is not a useful contemplative practice. And prayer alone will never be enough to help an individual who has a mental illness.

Best wishes,

Rachel Krebs

What is a person supposed to

What is a person supposed to do, hospitalize someone every time he or she expresses suicidal thoughts? Don't think so. Her parents did the right thing encourgaing her to seek treatment. Even when a person does seek treatment it does not make those thoughts go away. Therapy simply provides an outlet, coping strategies and maybe some medication. When it comes down to it the individual may feel some relief, but that feeling still lingers day after day. Yes, depression is treatable, but it does not permanently vanish and individuals may continue to experience and express suicidal thoughts. A suicidal person cannot be kept in a hospital every day of his or her life. In the end people can do the best they can to help, but it is ultimately the suicidal person's decision. A temporary solution may not fix a permanent problem.

Hi Kellie, As I mentioned in

Hi Kellie,

As I mentioned in my response above, my sister was 19 when she took her life. I am not a mental health professional, but my sister died at the same age as Madison who is mentioned in Dr. Pruchno's blog today and so I believe I may have some insights that are helpful.

In her article today Dr. Pruchno mentioned that "suicide is the third leading cause of death among people Madison’s age (15-24 years)." So, yes, anytime anyone expresses suicidal thoughts, especially someone 15-24 years of age, 911 should be called or a suicidal hotline or the individual should be rushed to the nearest hospital.

Best wishes,

Rachel Krebs

Hi Rachel, I battle

Hi Rachel,

I battle depression daily and fall into the the high risk category (15-24).Thankfully, I have coping strategies in place and support when I need it. What I am trying to say is in the long run a depressed person still battles suicidal tendencies daily even if he or she seeks help. The individual may still suffer internally with therapy and medication. Basically, therapy is a life vest for someone who is drowning. Hospitalizing a depressed person may help, but often times he or she relapses with medication and other treatments. Some individuals are treatment resistant. Is the depressed individual supposed to suffer silently through life just because their family members do not want them to die? Along with the societal belief that suicide is such a terrible thing. In a way it is similar to taking someone off of life support. Is it worth it to watch a loved one suffer for years, even if they receive treatment? There are a bunch of gray areas regarding depression and suicide. Even if a suicidal person calls a hotline they often are provided resources, not much immediate counseling. Go to the emergency room and a suicidal person might have to wait in the waiting room for hours before being evaluated. Then there is the dilemma that many depressed people face of not being able to afford treatment. Luckily, a lot of colleges provide counseling services for students. But, those that are not enrolled in college and are independent from their parents may struggle the most paying for long term therapy and medication. People make it sound so easy to get help, but in reality it is not. There are many people who fall deeper into depression because they can't afford help and truly believe no one cares about them. Yes, there are support groups, but it is not the same as being one on one with a therapist. Overall, society acts like they are trying to help suicidal people by providing hotlines and hospitalizing people, when neither are very effective. Unless the depressed person is evaluated and treated by a licensed mental healthcare professional he or she may not feel much relief.


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Rachel Pruchno, Ph.D. is Endowed Chair and Professor of Medicine at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. Her memoir Surrounded by Madnessis available at online bookstores.


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