Struggling & The Risk
To help your loved ones when they are struggling with addiction and the potential risk of suicide or thoughts of harming themselves, it helps to understand exactly what it entails and how severe their risk is. There are different levels of risk and types of situations involved that could mean very different things.
The Understanding of Each Element
Understanding each element can make it easier for you to spot the signs, help your family member, and maybe even help others in the world around you.
Suicidal Ideation: This is just the thought of attempting suicide or ideations of the act being completed.
Suicide Threats: Threats are verbal or nonverbal suggestions or actions that indicate that a person has intentions to attempt self-harm or that they intend to kill themselves.
Suicide Plan: An actual plan that includes a place, location, and method for attempting suicide, with or without an intent to carry it out. People can have a plan and never act on it, while others may act on suicidal thoughts without any plan at all.
Suicide Attempt: An attempt is any intentional effort to die as a result of suicide, which ends up not being fatal. It may or may not result in other injuries or effects.
Suicide Risk: This is an umbrella term that refers to how much potential risk a person faces when dealing with any of the other aspects of suicide discussed here.
A better understanding of the terms and the issue of suicide itself is going to make it easier to talk to your family member that is struggling. It will also allow you to be more informed and help others, as well as to identify potential warning signs and triggers that may need to be avoided.
Don't do anything
The worst thing that you can do is nothing. People have spent too long sweeping this issue under the rug or trying to find a way to change the subject and get people to redirect their focus. Instead, try confronting it head-on and just having an open, honest conversation if they are going to be receptive to it.
Be frank, use the correct terminology, and treat this just as if you were talking about how to help them fight cancer or a serious chronic condition-- because it is. Do your part to educate yourself so that you can be a better resource for your loved one. That will be a good place to start.