Suicide Prevention

Several years ago I contemplated suicide.  I was living by myself on a small farm in southwest Michigan and suffering terrible pain from irritable bowel syndrome.  I envisioned no future that was not filled with this pain and it being winter, planned to sit in a chair at the top of my driveway, wrapped in a coat, and slowly let the cold take me to a deadly sleep.  I panicked at my thoughts and called my brother who called my next door neighbor, who got me to the hospital where I signed myself in.  Having non-judgmental, caring friends is obviously important in suicide prevention.

Last March I went to Washington, D.C. to participate in the March for Our Lives and then again was with the extraordinary young leaders of that group who came to Chicago to participate in a march and rally organized by a local activist priest.  Thus when I learned that in recent weeks two of the teenagers who had lived through the carnage at  Stoneman Douglas High School had committed suicide, I was extraordinarily saddened.  In reading about the suicides I found that a psychiatrist had developed a set of questions which anyone can ask of a friend or relative to help determine if there is an imminent risk of suicide and I include them here at the end of this blog in the hope that it may help a friend help a friend.

Mental health professionals do not know why some people with severe depression contemplate suicide while others with the same condition do not.  But there is on-going research on the brain which is giving some clues, which may someday make it easier to determine who is at risk and to do major intervention way before it comes to a crisis point.  You can read about it at  Meanwhile, do support the efforts of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.


See Reverse for Questions that Can Save a Life

Past Month

1) Have you wished you were dead or wished you could go to sleep and not wake up?

2) Have you actually had any thoughts about killing yourself?

If YES to 2, answer questions 3, 4, 5 and 6 If NO to 2, go directly to question 6

3) Have you thought about how you might do this?

4) Have you had any intention of acting on these thoughts of killing yourself, as opposed to you have the thoughts but you definitely would not act on them?

High Risk

5) Have you started to work out or worked out the details of how to kill yourself? Do you intend to carry out this plan?

High Risk

Always Ask Question 6


Past 3 Months

6) Have you done anything, started to do anything, or prepared to do anything to end your life?

Examples: Collected pills, obtained a gun, gave away valuables, wrote a will or suicide note, held a gun but changed your mind, cut yourself, tried to hang yourself, etc.

High Risk

Any YES indicates the need for further care. However, if the answer to 4, 5 or 6 is YES,immediately ESCORT to Emergency Personnel for care, call 1-800-273-8255, text 741741 or call 911.




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