Rev. Ginger Watson
Mental Health Focus: Assess
At some point in your life, someone you care about will have a mental health emergency. The first thing that we must do in those situations is assess for the risk of suicide or harm.
If a friend or family member confides in you that they are feeling "unwilling to go on" or that "life isn't worth living" it's very tempting to try to cheer them up or get them to look on the bright side. That's usually because the subject makes us uncomfortable. Instead of putting a silver lining on their feelings, though, it's far better to ask the hard questions about what they are thinking.
"Are you thinking about hurting yourself?"
"You sound like you could be suicidal. Is that true?"
It's difficult to ask questions so bluntly because we think we might make things worse, or that we might offend them. But we can't make assumptions about people's intentions. As an act of love and compassion, we must be willing to make sure that they are safe. Next week we will talk about what to do if the person tells you that they are thinking about suicide.
If someone confides in you that they are having a hard time emotionally, assess for safety, then listen non-judgmentally. Your compassionate listening could be a true lifeline for someone who is struggling. After you've listened, pray with them if they are willing.
If you want more information about to how to help in these situations, call Pastor Ginger.