If you’re concerned that a member of your household may be suicidal, here are three practical steps you can take to help keep them safe.
1. Call Careline, 877-266-4357 (HELP) for support and info on resources in your area. You can also urge the family member to call the hotline, 24/7. For other parts of the country, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
2. Reduce access to dangerous items at home, including:
• Firearms – Because firearms are the most lethal among suicide methods, it is very important that you remove them until things improve at home, or, second best, lock them very securely.
• Medications – Don’t keep lethal doses at home. Your doctor, pharmacist, or the poison control center (1-800-222-1222) may be able to help you determine safe quantities for medicines you need to keep on hand. Particularly keep prescription painkillers (like oxycodone and methadone) locked up both because of their lethality and their potential for abuse.
• Alcohol – Alcohol can both increase the chance that a person makes an unwise choice, like attempting suicide, and increase the lethality of a drug overdose. Keep only small quantities at home.
3. Learn more about how to support the person. Careline can help point you to information and resources, or take a class like Mental Health First Aid (visit StopSuicideAlaska.org for more info and other options.) Your local or regional suicide prevention coalition can also help; NAMI is another resource. Eric Boyer, a trainer at UAA’s Center for Human Development/The Alaska Training Cooperative, 264-6257, is another resource.
There’s also a one-hour CALM training available — Counseling on Access to Lethal Means. Contact Eric Boyer for details.