From one of our Co-Founders
What to do in a suicide emergency.
Sadly yesterday I received the news that once again we lost someone in our support group to bipolar. It is a stark reminder of the seriousness of the illness that the author of this also battles with. If you love someone or is in contact with someone online that has a credible suicide threat this is what you do. We have saved many lives with these steps.
1. If the person is in the same country as you are and you have a proof or at least credible evidence that the person did make an attempt you can only do one thing. You need to call an ambulance. In the case of a cut attempt put pressure on the wound and get the person to the hospital immediately. In the case of an overdose do NOT give the person any water or fluids and do NOT induce vomiting. You may cause even more damage. Do not try and be a doctor and decide the ten pills the person swallowed will not kill them. Only a medical doctor can make that decision. Try to find out what pills they took. In the case of poison overdose you need to get to a hospital very urgently. If you cannot get access to a person’s property (they locked the doors) get the police to break down the doors.
2. Do not first try and get advice on Facebook; do not update your phone to let everyone know. Social media can wait, that person cant.
3. If the person is not in your own country and is only a Facebook contact the process is a bit more complex. There are several steps….
• If you know the address of the person you call emergency services and give them the address in that country. • If you don’t know the address you can look at the person’s Facebook profile. Usually it states at least a city or a town. If it states a town you are in luck. When we report cases in especially the USA we phone that county Sherriff. They are usually quite clued up and often the person is a known person to them. Ask them to do a welfare check. The same principle applies in most of Europe and Australia. South Africa sadly if you don’t have an address you will have to try and get one. The South African police won’t try to locate the person without an address. • If you can’t see a state or town or anything else you need to go to the person’s FB friends and find someone with the same surname. Usually you are in luck and it’s a family member. Message that person and inform them. • If you can’t see the person’s friend list then sadly there is not much more that you can do but report it to Facebook, they will send the person an email. Does not really do any good but at least it is something. Here is the link
(Note, you do get people that troll and tell you they did to get sympathy, I have no patience with this, tell the person you are calling emergency services, if they tell you no, they are ok, you know it was a fake. If they dont respond usually it means they did attempt)
Remember even superficial cuts require medical attention. The risk of infection and the need to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital exists. The same applies to low dose overdose. Over time repeated low dose overdosing can cause organ damage. Every attempt is a serious attempt.
– Take every threat as a serious one. We have seen many people threaten many times, to only then just one day complete it. - Never lose your patience with someone that is threatening suicide. - Never tell someone that wants to commit suicide it’s a selfish thing to do. - Be kind and loving while you speak to that person. - Try to get the person to call a help line.
In the case of a mental illness suicide emergency, your on Facebook, but don’t know where to turn, please contact this group.