There is a lot to digest in the article below so I encourage you to spend some time reading through the information. There are many takeaways but the one that struck me was this:
“One thing that is important for this area of research is to keep in mind that people have different needs,” he noted. “For some, what would be most helpful are reminders about skills to use during a crisis, whereas others may benefit more from caring messages from family members, and yet for others each of these may increase emotional distress. This is because nudges likely work differently from person to person, so figuring out what nudges will work best for each person will be critical for optimizing just-in-time nudges.”
We know that there are some little things we can do to help someone who might be at risk. There are just two problems with this though:
1. As the quote above explains, which little thing would help an individual person is somewhat unknown. We’re all different, and there’s no magic bullet that would prevent every person from continuing toward suicidal ideation.
2. Later in the article the authors also point out that we haven’t really figured out a good way to measure who is at risk.
I’m not a researcher but these two facts make me wonder if there’s not something we can do.
If we have a list of “nudges” that can help people feel like they belong or help educate people about things like safety plans, etc. and we don’t know who is at risk and which nudge might help them, maybe we should just continue to generally be kind to the people around us. That means trying to understand what makes them feel supported, connected, etc., and doing those things consistently. It also means noticing if a “nudge” has the opposite effect, and trying something different instead.
Help people feel like they belong, educate people about prevention resources, help them stay connected to family and friends, involve them, accept them, etc.
Help your friends and loved ones by communicating the kinds of things that help you. When you feel disconnected or like you are a burden, what can they do to keep you connected? What things do they do that make it worse?
When we don’t talk about these things we only make it worse, and we only continue to lose more people. We have to learn how to have these conversations. We have to be open to listening to the people closest to us and connecting to them without stigma and judgment. The researchers will keep working to learn more about prevention, but in the meantime simply caring about each other and being honest with each other is the best tool we have. We should use it.