If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, what help is in place, with no judgement
According to the American Association of Suicidology, one person commits suicide every 11.1 minutes in the United States. Suicide ranks as the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the 2nd leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds. There are approximately 1.4 million suicide attempts every year – one attempt every 26.6 seconds – and of the 1 death per 25 attempts, males represent 77.97% of those that result in fatal outcomes.
For those struggling with suicidal ideation, discussing their concerns and challenges can feel impossible in a world that fears death so much that it demonstrates prejudice and discrimination towards those who are trying to seek help to avoid it. Though talking about suicide and suicidal ideation can feel uncomfortable, there needs to be an open conversation around the topics and the people they impact. Suicide is already happening all around us – staying quiet about it only keeps those struggling further away from the resources that can help them. In this blog, we’ll discuss the resources individuals struggling with suicidal ideation can access without fear of being involuntarily committed for seeking help.
Resources for Suicidal Ideation
Suicidal ideation can be incredibly frightening, overwhelming, and isolating, but the first step in overcoming them is reaching out for help. If you are experiencing suicidal ideation, it’s important to know that help is available without the fear of being involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital. Here are some resources that can provide you with the help and support you need.
- The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Formerly the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255), the 988 lifeline was established in 2022 to provide a new, shorter, recognizable phone number that makes it easier for people to remember and access mental health crisis services. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free, and confidential support for individuals in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and favorable practices for professionals in the United States. If you would prefer to have a conversation over message instead of over the phone, you can chat with them online here. Note: The original 1-800-273-8255 phone number will also continue to function indefinitely.
- Crisis Text Line. The Crisis Text Line was established in 2013, and within 4 months of its launch, it had received messages from nearly every zip code in the United States. Similar to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, the Crisis Text Line provides 24/7, free, and confidential text-based mental health support and crisis intervention. This service is powered by a large community of trained volunteers who support people in their moments of need. You can text “HOME” to 741741 to be connected with a volunteer Crisis counselor.
- Warmlines. Unlike the 988 Lifeline and Crisis Text Line, warmlines’ priority is to provide early intervention with emotional support that can prevent a crisis. They take an early intervention approach to alleviating mental health struggles, while lifelines are more often used to manage crises in real time. Warmlines provide free and confidential peer-support services staffed by trained volunteers and employees who have experienced mental health conditions and/or are in recovery themselves. As the project coordinator for the National Council for Behavioral Health explained, “Warmlines help people who think, ‘I don’t know why I’m not feeling great, or who to turn to, or where to get care, and I don’t know for sure if I even need care.” Warmline services vary by state – check the following directories to see which are available in your state:
Resources for Specific Communities
- The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing 24/7, free, and confidential crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ+) young people under 25. You can reach them at 1-866-488-7386 or text START 6786780. You can also chat with them online by visiting this page. In addition to providing direct suicide prevention and crisis intervention via phone, text, and chat, the Trevor Project also boasts the world’s largest, safe-space social networking community called TrevorSpace. TrevorSpace is an online community for LGBTQ young people between the ages of 13-24 years old. It helps people explore their identities, receive advice, find support, and make friends in a moderated community designed for them.
- Veterans Crisis Line (also the Military Crisis Line). Launched in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line connects veterans, service members, National Guard and Reserve members – as well as the family and friends who support them – with responders from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) who are qualified to support this specific population. It is a 24/7, free, and confidential service that boasts over 500 responders – many of whom are Veterans and are therefore familiar with the intricacies and challenges of serving. Individuals seeking support do not have to be enrolled in VA benefits or health care to connect. Because the Veterans Crisis Line works closely with the 988 Lifeline, you can connect with the Veterans Crisis Line over the phone by dialing 988 then pressing 1. You can also connect with VA responders over text by texting 838255 or chat with them online here. Note: The original 1-800-273-8255 phone number will also continue to function indefinitely, then press 1.
Coping with Suicidal Ideation
Outside of a moment of crisis there is still an abundance of resources to help individuals coping with suicidal ideation. An example of this is reading the stories of others who have experienced suicidal ideation – and/or suicide attempt – and are still here to help others who find themselves in a similar position. Reading stories of hope, recovery, and day-to-day living from those who suffered from suicidal ideation can help people struggling know that they are not alone and it is possible to heal. Here are a few pages:
- 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. The 988 Lifeline page features an abundance of stories from those who have struggled with suicidal ideation and/or are suicide attempt survivors. The page also features categories, such as Addiction, Anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder, if you would like to streamline the content you relate most to.
- Live Through This. Established in 2010, Live Through This is a collection of portraits and true stories of suicide attempt survivors across the United States. Its mission is to destigmatize the conversation around suicide while amplifying the voices of attempt survivors by putting faces and names to the statistics.
- Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE). The SAVE page offers a host of hopeful prevention stories as well as stories from survivors of suicide loss (those who lost someone to suicide).
If the individual experiencing suicidal ideation is able to recognize persistently encroaching thoughts of harming themselves or ending their suffering, another resource to utilize is the Veterans Self-Check Quiz. To clarify, you do not need to be a veteran to use this service. The Department of Veterans Affairs and the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (previously the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) teamed with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to create the quiz. It is a safe and convenient way to assess how stress, depression, etc. may be affecting you. The service is completely voluntary and confidential. Individuals who take the quiz are not asked to provide their name or any other identification information. The self assessment takes about 10 minutes, then a VA Chat Responder will review it and leave a personal response on their secure site. No follow-up services will be provided unless the individual requests them, so they are free to proceed however they see fit after taking the quiz and receiving their results.
The final resource we will discuss for moments outside of immediate crisis is therapy. Though we recognize mental health professionals are ethically and legally required to report if a person is a danger to themselves or others, it is important to note that, above all, mental health professionals want to help their patients – not punish them for sharing their concerns. There is a wide spectrum of suicidal ideations and your mental health health professional is first interested in understanding what you are personally experiencing. For example, sometimes wishing you weren’t here is different than having a plan and means to hurt yourself, and they are responded to accordingly. Hospitalization is not the only way to treat suicidal ideation – and in several cases, it isn’t necessary. Increasing session frequency, developing a safety plan, and starting or adjusting medications are just a few of the alternative ways mental health professionals can help treat suicidal ideation. If you would like help finding mental health services, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Helpline is a 24/7, free, and confidential treatment referral and information service that can help connect you to the help you need. You can reach them by calling 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Reaching out for help is a brave and courageous act. It takes a lot of strength and courage to admit when you need help and cannot do it alone. The resources discussed in today’s blog don’t even begin to scrape the surface of how many resources, organizations, initiatives, etc. exist to help those deeply struggling. People care about your wellbeing. If you are hurting, afraid, or need someone to speak to, please reach out to one of the resources discussed in today’s blog – someone will reach back. Remember, you are not alone – there are so many people who care about you and want to help you get through this tough time.