|TW: Suicide| Suicide Prevention
By Katelyn Twist, JFK Peer Resources President, Certified for Suicide Prevention by Living Works Foundation
Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone of any age and any background. It may be overwhelming to be confronted with such a struggle, but not impossible to deal with. If you find yourself in a position where you are speaking to someone who may be considering suicide, remember “TASC.” This easy acronym by Living Works Foundation lays out the steps for giving proper support.
The first step, “T”, stands for “Tune in and listen.” This entails being observant and looking for the signs detailed below. Approach the person and use body language that shows you are tuned in to their thoughts. This may look like: eye contact, leaning in, head nodding, and focusing. Then, it is time to ask questions about how they are doing, what is going on in their life, and how it all is making them feel. To make them feel heard, repeat back what you are hearing, and ask the person for confirmation.
The second step, “A”, stands for, “Ask directly about suicide.” For this step, you must ask specifically whether they are thinking about suicide. It might seem awkward, but it is important to know definitively, so you can open up a conversation about their suicidal thoughts. Ask in a way that is concerned and supportive, and do not react in a judgemental or over-the-top way. If they respond, “Yes,” then you need to find out two vital pieces of information: Do they have a plan; And do they have the means to carry out their plan?
The third step, “S,” stands for “State that suicide is serious.” Let the person know that their suicidal thoughts are a significant issue that must be dealt with. Affirm that they are worth your troubles.
Lastly, “C” stands for, “Connect to Resources.” This is the part where you have all the information you need to get help. Ask the person what kind of help they are most comfortable with (in-person appointment, phone call, or texting). Make sure that they put the support information in their phone while you are with them. You can even offer to call with them, or attend their counseling appointment together.
Once completing the TASC steps, the person should be receiving the help that they need. Be sure to continue to check in on them while they are recovering. If you are interested in completing Living Works free suicide prevention training, text “START” to (888)707-0780 with school code “ALA” when signing in. Contact Mrs. Castillo for questions.
Signs of Suicidal Thoughts*:
Writing a will
Giving away treasured belongings, sharing passwords
Sudden, seemingly random, mood spikes (up or down)
Increased alcohol or drug use
Withdrawal from friends, family, and/or community
Impulsive or Reckless behavior
Collecting and saving pills, buying a weapon
Tying up loose ends (paying off debts, organizing personal papers)
Saying goodbye to friends and family
*Note: A combination of two or more of these signs is concerning. Showing one of these signs does not necessarily guarantee that a person is suicidal.