Suicide Prevention Tools for Addiction Sufferers

Woman struggling with seasonal depression

Warning: This story addresses suicide. If you are struggling, or someone you know struggling needs help, please follow the steps in the article.

Addiction to a substance or behavior can cause one to feel hopeless, frustrated, and full of shame, all of which can contribute to thoughts of suicide.

One study found that up to 40% of patients seeking treatment for substance dependence report a history of attempting suicide. [1] Another study found that people who abuse alcohol and/or drugs or are dependent on them attempt suicide nearly six times more often than people who do not abuse these substances. [2]

If you Are Struggling

If you are feeling seriously depressed or suicidal, there is help. Please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889.

Helping a Friend or Loved One with Suicide

If someone you know is considering suicide and reaches out to you for help, The National Institute of Mental Health recommends five steps to help someone who is considering suicide [3]:

  1. ASK: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” This may be a tough question to ask someone, but studies show that the question does not increase the likelihood of suicide and shows that you are taking their concerns seriously.
  2. KEEP THEM SAFE: Do what you can to remove the means of suicide. Ask them if they have a plan or access to weapons.
  3. BE THERE: Listen actively. Helping a person feel heard and understood is key to helping them gain a sense of hope and may reduce the risk of suicide.
  4. Girl very sad and thinking about SuicideHELP THEM CONNECT: Don’t try to be the only source of help. Connect them with a mental health professional, clergy member, or trusted family member. Give them the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s (1-800-273-TALK (8255)) and the Crisis Text Line’s number (741741) and encourage them to reach out.
  5. STAY CONNECTED: Studies have shown the number of suicide deaths goes down when someone follows up with the at-risk person after the initial crisis has passed.

Connection is Key

If a friend who is considering suicide reaches out to you, don’t act alone. Get professional support. If you are a child or a teen, be sure to tell an adult right away.

If you are feeling depressed or hopeless, you are not alone. There are people who want to help. We strongly recommend that you do not keep your thoughts and emotions to yourself, and you contact the numbers above and then tell a family member or friend that you need help.

There are resources and treatments, including therapy, medication, and support groups that can help you with both your addictions and with suicidal thoughts and feelings.


REFERENCES

[1] Yuodelis-Flores, C., & Ries, R. K. (2015, March). Addiction and suicide: A review. Retrieved January 27, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25644860
[2] Dragisic, T., Dickov, A., Dickov, V., & Mijatovic, V. (2015, June). Drug Addiction as Risk for Suicide Attempts. Retrieved January 27, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4499285/
[3] Suicide Prevention. (n.d.). Retrieved January 27, 2020, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml


About the Author:

Travis StewartTravis Stewart, LPC has been mentoring others since 1992 and became a Licensed Professional Counselor in 2005. His counseling approach is relational and creative, helping people understand their story while also building hope for the future. Travis has experience with a wide variety of issues which might lead people to seek out professional counseling help. This includes a special interest in helping those with compulsive and addictive behaviors such as internet and screen addiction, eating disorders, anxiety, and perfectionism. Specifically, he has worked with eating disorders since 2003 and has learned from many of the field’s leading experts. He has worked with hundreds of individuals facing life-threatening eating disorders in all levels of treatment. Travis’ website is wtravisstewart.com


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed and Approved by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on February 18, 2020
Published February 18, 2020, on AddictionHope.com

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.