Some guys think calling 9-1-1 or going to a hospital is a signal that all is lost. But going to a hospital is the smartest thing to do if your depression is severe and overwhelming. Getting crisis support shouldn’t be construed as failure, but rather as getting the right support at the right time.
If you need immediate support, but can’t make it to the hospital on your own, call 9-1-1. Here’s what you can say:
“I am battling depression, and I can’t stop thinking about ending my life. I don’t feel safe. Can you send someone to take me to the hospital?”
They will ask about the situation and where you are so they can send help and won’t let you off the phone until help arrives.
If you feel more comfortable calling someone you know, you can say:
“I am battling depression and it’s too much. I am thinking about ending my life. Can you call 9-1-1 for me or help me get to a hospital?”
This includes filling out forms, a quick screening by a nurse, and waiting to see a doctor, which can be anywhere from one to several hours depending on how busy the hospital is. If you wait a long time, just be assured that you are in a safe place.
You will meet with an emergency room doctor and a psychiatric nurse and/or on-call psychiatrist for assessment. Your admittance to hospital often depends on how much space the hospital has. Unless you have a clear plan to harm yourself or others and are at immediate risk to act on such plans, you may not be admitted. If you have a family doctor, they may try to contact them to ask for more information. It’s really important to be honest and let them know how you are feeling and what you are thinking.
If admitted, your steps from here can vary widely depending on where you live, whether or not your visit was voluntary (for example, after an attempted drug-overdose a person will be incapacitated and not capable of providing consent), and what space is available in hospital. Most hospitals that offer inpatient services have specific acute crisis wards, but in practice they will fit you in wherever possible.
Hospital stays can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months, depending on the speed of your recovery. Learn more about emergency and inpatient services.
If not deemed a threat to yourself or others, you will not be admitted to hospital and instead will be referred to other outside resources. In this case, it’s important to follow up with the referred supports, and also with your family doctor.
Manage Suicidal Thoughts
Suicidal thoughts are common with depression. There are going to be ups and downs along your path to getting better, and at times you may lose hope, but with the proper supports you can beat depression. Here are a few things to keep in mind to minimize risk of acting on and get help with suicidal thoughts.
Don’t dismiss suicidal thoughts
Suicidal thoughts usually start as fantasies about escaping life and getting away from it all. If depression really pulls your mood down, these thoughts can increase to the point where you might actually think it’s a logical thing to do. If you find yourself having such thoughts more frequently, reach out to others for support.
Make sure you’re safe
This is a simple but important step. Don’t take extra risks by having weapons or unnecessary medications around. If you’re feeling unsafe, ask a friend or family member to help you move these or other potentially dangerous things somewhere else.
Avoid things that trigger suicidal thoughts
If you feel unsafe, make note of the situation and remove yourself from it. This may be a specific place, web site, show, movie, or book that discusses suicide without framing it in terms of hope and recovery.