How to Ask About Suicide: The Lighthouse Project

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for children, college students, and military veterans. Suicidal ideation, the thought of attempting suicide, is far higher. Yet, the treatment numbers far below the numbers of self-reports. There are an average of 110 suicides a day (every 40 seconds). These are very scary numbers and realizations about the amount of despair that exists on a daily basis There is help and ways to determine severity, but this is the professional's job. 
That begs the question... why aren't we talking about it more? It is safe to say that talking about suicide can be quite uncomfortable. What could we possibly say? Often times the listener's anxiety of saying the wrong thing or thinking about such sad implications will stop us from ever asking. Or maybe we just don't know what to ask...



Thankfully, the good people at The Columbia Lighthouse Project have created some wonderful resources for caring neighbors, friends, and family members. Below you will find a guided set of questions that assess the severity of someone's desire to commit suicide. Remember that if someone has a plan or thought specifically how they might end their life, it is an emergency situation: take them into emergency care facility immediately. If you suspect a person is in danger, refer immediately to a professional that can help. 
The questionnaire below is an example of what can be used to assess risk.