Address suicide with ‘TALK’


From: Kayla Jacak

September was suicide prevention month and together we can reduce the amount of unnecessary deaths due to suicide. If we are able to recognize the warning signs and react accordingly, we can help give these individuals a future that they otherwise wouldn’t have.

At this moment in time, it is estimated that one in 20 people are having thoughts of suicide. Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone at any point in time. A person may seem fine on the outside, but on the inside they are asking for help. Most people who are thinking of suicide want to be helped; they want to live. Some reach out in direct ways to invite people to help them, while others make subtle invitations to ask for help. It is important to recognize these subtle invitations and to reach out and help these individuals. This article will explore some of the warning signs and ways that you can help the suicidal individual.

When considering whether an individual is considering suicide, you should follow the acronym TALK. The “T” in TALK stands for “tell.” These are the invitations that the person is giving to reach out for help; they are trying to tell you about their situation. Some signs to watch out for are feelings of desperation, hopelessness, carelessness, talking about being alone, being a burden, and having no purpose in life. Sometimes these signs can be obvious, but a lot of the time the warning signs are subtle. Sometimes it is just a gut feeling that you have to listen to.

The next step in the TALK acronym is the “A,” which stands for “ask.” If you think there is even a slight chance that a person is suicidal, it is extremely important that you ask them directly if they are planning on completing suicide. Instead of asking in indirect ways, you need to directly ask the individual, “Are you thinking about attempting suicide?”

The “L” in TALK stands for “listen.” You do not need to be trained in preventing suicide to help someone who is suicidal. Most individuals who are contemplating suicide just want someone to listen to them. Sometimes after this stage is over, the person will try to play it off as nothing and insist they are fine now; do not accept this. It is important to end the conversation by telling the individual that this is important and they need help. Also, you should never tell the person that you will keep this a secret.

This leads us to the “K” in TALK which stands for “keep safe.” This is the stage where you provide the individual with resources to help them.

If you are with someone who you believe is suicidal and the steps you have taken to try to de-escalate the situation are proving unsuccessful, you may call the crisis response hotline. The number for the crisis response hotline is 1-844-274-7472. You will be connected with a mental health professional who will try to talk you through the situation. If this does not work, they will send a team to come to where you are and get the individual help.


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