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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health and Safety Guide

ASERT has put together some resources for those with autism and those who care for people with autism relating to the current Coronavirus outbreak.

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Responding To Suicidal Statements

Overview

This information sheet was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative and provides warning signs and tips to help individuals respond to suicidal statements.

When an individual is suicidal, you may be unsure of how to help. This guide will help explain signs of suicide and know what to do if an individual expresses suicidal thoughts.

Professionals use words like “suicidal ideation,” “suicidal intent,” or “suicidal plan” to describe statements or actions. Examples include:

  • I wish I never had been born!
  • I’m causing too many problems.
  • You’d be better off without me.
  • Nothing matters anymore.
  • I should just die. I hate school, I want to kill myself!
  • I’m going to shoot myself tomorrow.

Warning Signs

  • Talking about death or wanting to die
  • Making threats to kill or hurt themselves
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • More interest in death, drawing about death or researching ways to kill themselves
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Talking about hopelessness, emptiness, or expressing no will to live
  • Engaging in self-harm

What happens if comments are made at school?

Talk to your child’s school principal, guidance counselor, teachers, and/or school psychologist to address concerns at school. Ask your child about bullying, learning difficulties, behavior difficulties, or signs of anxiety or depression. In addition to outside mental health care, schools provide services targeting mental health.

Things You Can Do

  1. Take all threats seriously! People who are suicidal do not always say they want to kill themselves, but may show warning signs. If you are concerned, make a plan to keep them safe. Don’t be afraid to directly ask, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
  2. Call 9-1-1 if you feel you or the individual is in immediate danger. Don’t leave the person alone. Lock up harmful items if a person is in danger- this includes medications, weapons,knives, guns and bullets.
  3. Seek out professional help right away. Go to the closest emergency department if you feel the individual is in danger. You can also contact the county crisis hotline or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number 1-800-273-TALK (8255). These are free, confidential services available 24/7 to help with mental health and emotional crises.
  4. Follow up with a mental health specialist. Therapy and medication management are beneficial for people who have thoughts of suicide. It’s important for children and adults to have access to mental health services if they have suicidal thoughts or depression.

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This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.