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How the Suicide Prevention Lifeline Saved One NewBridge Client

Friday, June 26, 2020

Suicide lifeline logoThe mother of a NewBridge Services client called on a Sunday, reporting that her adult son was agitated, stressed and depressed. He’d recently lost three people he knew to COVID-19 and was struggling with the news about racial upheaval across the nation.

NewBridge social worker Deborah Abrams reached out to the client for an unscheduled telehealth session to assess him for suicidal ideation. While he said he felt okay, Abrams helped him create a suicide safety plan, a toolkit of strategies for diffusing an emotional crisis. She gave him the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, (800) 273-TALK (8255), which provides free, 24/7 emotional support.

“We discussed intense feelings and the need to delay any action taken when any strong emotions are present,” Abrams said. “The lifeline is one strategy to delay acting on feelings and to get connected to immediate support.” She advised him and his mother to go to the hospital if he felt he might harm himself.

At their next session, the client said he was doing well using the coping strategies he’d learned. Again, Abrams gave him the Lifeline number as a reminder.

A week later during his medication monitoring appointment, the client told NewBridge Services nurse practitioner Sharon Katz that he’d had suicidal ideations and called the lifeline. (After evaluating him, Katz recommended he go to the hospital for an evaluation.)

“I think it is important to discuss with clients that when we have many stressors and assaults on our feelings of safety and well-being, any person might find themselves in a situation where they need support and immediate assistance,” Abrams said. “This client at first told me that he didn’t need the Lifeline. I am grateful that he took it, kept it in his phone, and used it,” she said.

New Jersey also has a round-the-clock suicide prevention hotline at NJ HOPELINE, 1-855-654-6735. Crisis chat is accessible through the website.

Five Action Steps

If you suspect someone is having suicidal thoughts, talk to them. The National Institute of Mental Health recommends these five action steps:

  1. Ask. While it may feel awkward, ask, ‘Are you thinking about killing yourself?’
  2. Keep them safe. Keep them away from lethal items and places.
  3. Be there. Ask questions and listen to what they are thinking and feeling.
  4. Help them connect. Make sure they get in touch with a mental health professional or someone very close to them.
  5. Stay Connected. Follow up with the individual afterward because that can reduce the risk of a subsequent crisis. 

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© 2020 Newbridge Services. E-mail And Voicemail Cannot Replace Counseling.