Crisis Intervention: Helping People who are Depressed or Suicidal

When problems, loss, tragedy, or stress threaten a person's stability and ability to cope, they can soon feel helpless and hopeless. How do we help people who are depressed or suicidal because of it?
 

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What if the person is depressed? 

A basic need of someone who is depressed is to find hope. Proverbs 13:12 says "Hope deferred makes the heart sick." Help the person find hope. Often depression comes as a result of pent-up anger or guilt. Someone has said that depression is anger turned inward. Consequently, helping the person properly deal with anger or guilt may lead to the lifting of depression. There may be precipitating events, particularly loss of some sort that a person must learn to deal with. If depression persists, a physical check up should be encouraged as depression may be a result of biological factors. Depression can spiral out of control if a person allows himself to dwell on problems, to withdraw from people, and to break from routine. Help the person come up with a plan of maintaining some of the routine in his life and to accomplish certain basic tasks. Encourage them to maintain their relationship with the Lord and with others regardless of how they feel.

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What if the person is suicidal? 

You need to know your obligations to the person and to the legal system. Determine at what point you need to report a suicidal threat and obtain outside help. Evaluate how lethal and detailed the plan seems to be. Assess if the person has the means of carrying it out. Take even passing comments seriously. When possible you may want to develop a pact with them wherein they are to call you first before making an attempt.

Clicking on the links below will take you to articles on other sites or to one of our affiliate bookstores. While seeking to choose sites and books that are doctrinally sound, the Ministry Tools Resource Center makes no claim to total endorsement of any listing.
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In addition to the content in this section, the People Helping Ministry Manual helps you develop a starting point for preventing and preparing people for crisis.