How to Help a Suicidal Person
Who Needs Hospitalization
by Kevin Caruso
If someone you know needs to be hospitalized because they are suicidal, you
should take several steps to ensure their safety.
First off, realize that just because someone is in a hospital does not mean that he or she cannot or will not die by suicide. Some hospitals are great, but others are horrible. And the staff will rotate throughout the day, so whoever is working there when you arrive will be gone in a matter of minutes or hours.
So be sure to accompany the person to the hospital and take a good look at the facility.
Ask a lot of questions. Talk with the doctors and nurses who will be treating the person you are bringing in. Get specific information about what the doctors and nurses will do with respect to assessment and treatment. If you are not satisfied with the hospital or the staff, then go elsewhere.
After you ask all of the questions that you can think of, do not leave. Keep in mind that medication can take time to work, so stay with the person.
Ideally, you want to stay with the person for all of the available visiting hours throughout his or her entire stay in the hospital. And if you can't do that, get help from others. You want to monitor everything that is going on, ask ongoing questions, report problems, and comfort the person that you are with.
I want to emphatically repeat that just because someone is in a hospital does not mean that he or she will not die by suicide. So, again, stay with the person as much as possible.
Anytime that something occurs that you do not understand or agree with, speak up. Demand that the person you are with receives the very best treatment 100% of the time.
Also, make sure that there are no objects that can be used as a method for suicide that the person can get a hold of. People who are highly suicidal can use virtually anything to try to harm themselves, so do not assume that the hospital is a safe environment. If you want something removed from the room, speak up, or remove it yourself.
Appreciate that working with a suicidal person can be draining on you, so try to set up a support system for yourself. If other people can come in and visit with the person, so you have a small group together, that can ease your burden, and also act as a support structure for you.
When the person is discharged, you will need to be particularly careful because many suicides occur shortly after discharge. Again, stay with the person as much as possible.
And make sure that all follow-up care is provided.
To summarize: Stay with the person as much as possible before, during, and after the hospital stay. Ask a lot of questions, and realize that just because a person is in a hospital does not mean that he or she cannot die by suicide.
If you or someone you know is suicidal, please go to the Home Page of this website for immediate help.
I love you.