"Empathise that you understand it's difficult now for them. Acknowledge that they have trusted to talk with you."
The topic of suicidal ideation can be a challenging one to address for even the most experienced of counselling professionals, let alone members of human resources or management. OCP's Managing Director Peter Finlayson has put together a list of general do's and don'ts if you should find yourself with an employee, family member or loved one that shares their feelings around this with you.
Firstly, check-in that they are okay
Empathise that you understand it's difficult now for them. Acknowledge that they have trusted to talk with you.
If they mention suicide
It is important to take the person seriously. Show that you are concerned about them and that you are clear about what they have said.
Talk about the future and be positive
Discuss that we all have challenges and use positive conversation that it will get better.
Discuss all the things that are going well right now. There will be many. People have different levels of despair and happiness and won't be constantly thinking about suicide.
Discuss the good things that happen, regardless of how small they may seem each day and focus on these. Change the focus to the small successes.
Discuss the improved way of thinking/feeling and the change in mindset
When focusing on the positive things in their life and there will be many, this will change the focus on what's not going well to what is.
Discuss doing this as often they can, regardless of how small it may seem. Discuss the positive change they feel when focusing on all that is good.
Remind them of their achievements and this new focus, use supportive and motivational comments to encourage this mindset change.
Don't try to take the place of a counsellor
By focusing on and using the above points mentioned this will help support the person and encourage them to talk to a professional.
Strongly encourage them to contact OCP, or call with them on their behalf. We are the professionals and can continue with the support you have given.
Take it seriously and call. You may have saved a life.