Dr Thomas focused on the ways in which stress can lead to depression and suicide, and noted that during these times persons need to be aware of how to assess the severity of their loved ones’ emotions.
He spoke about the ‘PINS’– Place, Intensity, Nearness, Support – model to judge how serious someone might be about harming themselves.
Place – If someone expresses that they want to kill themselves, do they know the place? Ask: So, if you were to kill yourself, where would you do it?
Intensity of the method: How drastic would the method be? By hanging, taking pills, etc? That can give an indication of their emotional state and how far along in the process they are.
Nearness of the method. Does the person have the means of death? Do they have the rope, for example?
Support: Dr Thomas said that persons who are depressed or suicidal want to know that someone cares. He said that sometimes children feel that their parents are too busy, so parents should look for ways to pour into their children and spouses’ lives at this time. He noted that people who have no support will easily feel overwhelmed.
Eight ways to help:
• If you think they are acting inappropriately raise the matter. Ask them if they are feeling overwhelmed.
• Listen with your ears, eyes and heart. What are they trying to say?
• Be non-judgemental.
• Show genuine care and concern.
• Negotiate an agreement. Make a deal with them. For example, say, “You know what, let’s talk more about this tomorrow,” and have them commit to that.
• Remove drugs and weapons from the house.
• Engage in problem-solving.
• Seek professional help.
What not to do:
• Do not say, ‘go ahead and try’.
• Do not say how much friends and family will be hurt. Sometimes those persons are the root of the anxiety.
• Do not ignore a threat.
• Don’t get trapped into secrecy.
• Do not show shock or embarrassment by anything they have to say.
• Do not get into an argument with them.
• Do not try to solve the problem on your own. Seek help.
What to do if you are suicidal:
• Share your feelings with someone responsible.
• Hand over any drugs or weapons you have.
• Disclose your plans with a trusted person.
• Resist any temptation to be alone. Even in COVID-19 you can talk to people online if you live alone, and keep in touch that way.
• Remember that God has an escape for you.
• Insist that you will not obey the devil.
• Remember that God has a way of escape for you.
• Remember that suicide causes more problems not solutions.
• Suicide is permanent – your problem is temporary.
• Think about your eternal life.