Suicide support services include support groups for depression and suicide, emergency hotlines and online support services. Suicide support services are separate from professional depression and suicide treatment, and are intended to provide a safe environment for people to share experiences and offer support to each other. Grief support groups are available for suicide survivors.
Emergency Support for Suicide
Suicide support groups are not equipped to deal with emergency treatment. Anyone contemplating suicide should either go to the nearest hospital emergency room or call 911 for assistance.
Suicide support services are also available through 24-hour suicide support hotlines, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Counselors who staff suicide support hotlines provide assistance to both suicidal individuals and people who suspect a friend or family member is suicidal.
Support Groups for Depression and Suicide
A support group is a meeting place for people who share a similar health condition or experiences. Mental health organizations, church groups or nonprofit organizations may run support groups. Someone suffering from depression who wishes to help other people cope with the disorder may also start a support group for depression or suicide.
It’s important to realize that suicide support groups are different from group therapy. A depression or suicide support group provides support, advice and a place to share experiences with people who understand. Group therapy provides these services as well, but as part of a larger therapeutic goal under the guidance of a mental health provider.
People seeking support for suicide and depression may have to “shop around” and try different groups until they find one where they feel comfortable. Possible sources for finding a support group include:
- Community centers
- Family doctors and therapists
- Friends and family
- Local newspapers or phone books
- Mental health clinics
- Mental health organizations
- Places of worship
- Social workers.
Online Suicide Support Services
Discussing suicide and depression symptoms in a group setting can be an unnerving experience; online suicide support services offer an alternative. Examples of possible online support services include:
- Chat lines
- Mailing lists
- Social networking sites.
Online suicide support services are often very helpful, but do have some pitfalls. The anonymity of the online environment tempts some people to prey upon, bully or manipulate people who are vulnerable. When using online suicide support services, keep the following in mind:
- Be aware that some groups are more interested in marketing products than helping people.
- Be cautious of groups that promote alternative treatments, or that encourage you to stop conventional treatment.
- Never give out personally identifying information online.
- Online support groups are very convenient, but don’t let the Internet replace face-to-face socializing.
- Remember, not everyone online is who they claim to be.
Grief Support Groups
Suicide support services are also available for the survivors of suicide. Losing someone to suicide often triggers questions and feelings of guilt. People dealing with a friend or family member’s suicide may benefit from grief support groups that focus on support for suicide survivors.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Staff. (n.d.). Support groups. Retrieved May 17, 2010, from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website: www.afsp.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=FEE33687-BD31-F739-D66C210657168295.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). Support groups: Share experiences about depression, mental health conditions. Retrieved May 17, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic website: www.mayoclinic.com/health/support-groups/MH00044.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. (2010). Get help. Retrieved May 25, 2010, from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/Default.aspx.