Just as CPR has been promoted to save lives, it is vital that the general public knows how to assess and prevent suicide. Here are the steps:
1. Notice if the person appears disheveled or the gaze is downward or the voice tone is flat or says things like, “Life’s not worth living,” or “I hate my life,” etc.
2. Ask: “How would you rate your mood right now on a scale of zero to ten with zero meaning life’s not worth living and ten meaning life is great?”
3. If the person rates the mood as 5 or under, ask: “Have you had any thoughts of suicide or of harming yourself?” *
4. If the person indicate yes, go to the next step. If the person says, “I don’t know,” hear this as a “yes” to the question in #3.
5. Ask: “Have you thought about how you might end your life?” If the person says yes, the risk is increased.
6. Ask: “What have you thought about as how you might do it?” If the means is ineffective or non-lethal, such as cutting wrists, risk is lower. If the means is lethal such as using a gun or jumping from a bridge, etc., risk is higher.
7. Regardless of the means, ask: “Can we agree together that if you have thoughts of killing yourself, you will speak to me personally (not my voice mail) before carrying out a plan to harm yourself?”
8. If the person says “no” or “I don’t know,” to the question in #7, say: “What I am hearing is that you are in a lot of pain right now and thinking of ending your life, so I am wanting you to go to the emergency room right now and get some help to feel better right away. Will you go? I will make sure you get there safely. Is there a family member or someone I can call to go with you?” Or tell the person you will go with them yourself.
9. Arrange for the person to be accompanied to the emergency room, and call ahead to tell emergency staff you are coming.
10. If the person refuses, then ask the person to wait there with someone while you call police in another room to report that the person has threatened suicide with lethal means. Ask the police to come and accompany the person to the emergency room.