Crisis can strike any moment, anyone, and anywhere. Throughout our lives, we all face crises of varying severity and frequency. A crisis, according to Webster, is a “turning point.” A crisis occurs as a result of a transition, and one then frequently perceives it as catastrophic. Life-changing events that lay the stage for a crisis can come as a surprise or a result of the naturally evolving process. While events may have been building for some time, the triggering event marks the official start of the crisis state. Inadvertent crises are those that occur as a result of unforeseen circumstances. These result from events that bring about too much change in too short a period. A crisis is likely if one views this transition as a threat to one’s existence or perceived equilibrium or testing their inherent resources.
Some of the factors which determine the severity of the crisis are:
- The onset’s abruptness
- The physical and emotional wellbeing of the individual at the moment
- Additional obstacles in the individual’s life
- The quantity and quality of accessible support
- Previous crises and coping strategies honed
- The complexity of the crisis
- The degree to which advanced warning is issued
Sadness, anger, guilt, rejection, and remorse are common crisis emotions. It can cause significant changes in one’s sleep, appetite and other physiological functions of the body. The crisis state of disorganization and uncertainty can affect many facets of one’s life. Most people only feel the full force of the crisis for four to six weeks. This six-week window of opportunity opens widest in the first 24 hours of a catastrophe. Whoever jumps in early has the greatest chance of influencing the outcome. Recognize your strengths and limitations as a gatekeeper, and have others accessible to help. Often, it may involve a network of people who can help the person in crisis.
While all crises are important, not all are emergencies. People typically overreact to critical situations by declaring their emergencies. An emergency necessitates immediate action and response. A crisis may or may not be an emergency. When requested to assist in a crisis, gather all relevant information. In a crisis, you may not have to do much to help. Just being there to listen and help explore choices may be enough to help someone convert a crisis into a learning opportunity. Without intervention, the suffering person is likely to take the path of least resistance, resulting in an insufficient response. To be allowed to intervene in another’s distress moments is a life-changing experience.
In a crisis, it isn’t easy to foresee what anyone, including yourself, will do. In some cases, individuals crumble immediately; for others, finding an inner reservoir of strength is enough to carry them through protracted moments of crisis. One requires hope and help in both cases. The crisis state can have a significant impact on multiple facets of a person’s life simultaneously. When a person is in crisis, gatekeepers must contact that person and offer support through their presence. For the time being, the primary objective is to channel the concerns through presence. Crisis stabilization is the immediate goal; it aims to help the individual get through the “crisis window” with adequate support.
No matter how slippery the slope seems, there is always hope for people who are suffering; that each and every action could help light the way for those who have lost all hope. Suicide is preventable, and we are all accountable. As responsible members of society, as family members, friends, partners, parents, peers, neighbours, gatekeepers, we can all make a difference in someone’s darkest hour by creating hope through action. We all have a responsibility to support those in distress and those who have lost someone to suicide.
1. Make yourself available to listen.
2. Pay attention to the other person.
3. Listening to their story (narrative) is important.
4. Listen more, interrupt less.
1. Take their concerns seriously. It does matter to them.
2. Never underestimate or trivialize the difficulties that someone is experiencing.
3. Be sensitive to their worries and needs.
1. Trust the person in crisis and their experience.
2. Skill to distinguish perception from misperception matters.
3. Understand the nature of the problem, consider the possibility of mental health issues if need be.
1. Show empathy, not pity.
2. Don’t react. Recognize, Respond. and Refer.
3. Assist in recognizing adaptive and maladaptive emotions.
4. Wanting a crisis to end is human. Support in finding sustainable alternatives.
HELP THEM VOCALIZE
1. Help them to put words to feelings, thoughts, and needs.
2. You can rephrase and use their vocabulary. It helps you connect with them.
3. A crisis is as big as it is being perceived. Help them vocalize and describe the crisis.
1. Consider the many challenges that often accompany a crisis.
2. Be aware that when confronted, those in crisis may begin to doubt their self worth.
3. Avoid pressuring the person into doing something they don’t wish to do.
4. Be unconditional in your compassion.
1. Don’t judge people or situations that require your help.
2. Maintain an attentive, non-judgmental tone of voice.
3. Examine your biases and prejudices to make wise decisions always.
4. If a person’s words conceal an underlying concern, gently probe.
CREATE A SAFE SPACE
1. Be careful not to use cliches (When life gives you lemons, make lemonade).
2. Don’t dismiss or minimise the person’s pain or frustration.
3. Observe and resist abusive statements and acts.
4. Value and respect all personal information exchanged.
KEEP THINGS NORMAL
1. Be present. Your presence may be comforting and reassuring.
2. Maintain an attitude of goodwill, but don’t be excessively cheerful.
3. Accept and adapt to the situation. Do not debate or dispute.
4. Address the crisis honestly. It’s as simple as talking about it.
1. Stay calm and avoid an argument. Do not be offended if they refuse to share.
2. Maintain a calm demeanour and avoid displaying fear or surprise.
3. In your communication, show composure, concern, and compassion.
4. Intense situations and feelings can be addressed with counselling.
SHOW UP FOR THEM
1. Availability is key. When asked for help, prioritise and be there.
2. Maintain consistency and reliability. Embrace short-term discomfort.
3. Be open and inclusive.
SAFEGAURD PRIVACY & CONFIDENTIALITY
1. Recognize the significance of privacy and confidentiality.
2. Locate a quiet, safe space to listen.
3. Keep private information confidential. It should only be shared if it is essential for their safety.
PROBE, DON’T POKE
1. Refrain from asking too many questions only to satisfy your curiosity.
2. Confine the query to a specific context.
3. Only seek information that clarifies the circumstance.
4. If the existing setting inhibits people from freely communicating, shift the setting.
GO WITH YOUR INSTINCTS
1. Trust the individual who is looking for aid unless you fear that it can harm others or themselves.
2. Believe in your gut feeling. Be observant, engaging, and comforting.
3. Allow their emotions to surface. Help them come to terms with their feelings & have the difficult discussion.
PRIORITIZE THEIR SAFETY
1. Don’t commit to keepIng secrets, especially if they are possibly harmful to anyone.
2. Avoid leaving the person alone for extended periods of time during the crisis.
3. Helping the person stay safe may require moving them to a less isolated location.
4. Be mindful of the individual’s physical boundaries.
REMEMBER THE DON’TS TOO
1. Dont get distracted. A crisis requires the ability to process, think, cope, and deal.
2. Don’t employ psychological techniques to convince someone they’re going insane..
3. Don’t manipulate or persuade someone to do something.
4. Dont create continual anxiety to heighten stress.
RESPECT THEIR INDIVIDUALITY
1. People in distress are sensitive to suggestions. Don’t dictate, be tough and demanding.
2. Accept them how they are, accepting their fear, fury, or frustration.
3. During a crisis, one may regret past decisions. Allow them to speak freely.
4. Include the person in your conversations to help them feel connected.
1. Look for signs of hopelessness (Nothing will ever change, I have no future, I feel like giving up).
2. Instill hope but not false hope.
3. Hold on to your hope for the individual.
1. The key to successfully reassuring the individual is to tell them that you will do your best to help and guard them.
2. Inform the person that help is available and then seek the help you and the person need.
3. Assure the person that telling someone is the proper thing to do.
PRIORITIZE FACTS OVER FEELINGS
1. Whenever feasible, encourage the person to take charge of the situation.
2. Encourage them to start small. The first step is to make small attempts to deal with the crisis.
3. Do not allow them to get too deep down the rabbit hole of “what if.” It’s a dead-end street, after all!
1. Aid to shift their perspective. It’s easy for someone in crisis to believe that their point of view is the only way to approach a problem. Help them reflect on these questions. “Is there another way to look at this situation?” or “What are some other possible explanations for this happening?” Pointing out alternatives can help them see things from a different perspective. “What gives me hope?” “What do I aim to impart to others through my life and crisis?”
SUPPORT, DON’T PREACH
1. When you press information on a person who is exhausted, unwell, or spiritually overwhelmed, it will make things worse.
2. Don’t preach or lecture, and don’t be scared of the silences that will follow.
3. Keep things neutral and refrain from any criticism of the problem, and don’t launch into a moral sermon about the incident.
1. Sit with the person who is experiencing anxiety as a result of the situation
Assist the individual in acknowledging and confronting their fears.
Be prepared to walk alongside the individual through the tensions that arise as a result of the crisis.
HELP THEM PROBLEM SOLVE
1. Help the person decide which practical solutions are the most beneficial and easiest to execute.
2. Help them prioritize their tasks, knowing which to complete first.
3. When many people are involved in a crisis, begin by dealing with the most concerned person, thereby reducing their anxiety.
ASSIST, DO NOT ASK
1. Don’t see the person in crisis as a victim. Comprehend their crisis with compassion.
2. By giving them a list of options and resources, you can help them focus on their immediate concerns.
3. Help them face their “demons.” It’s a crisis they must face. Get someone they can trust to help them as soon as possible.
1. Make alternative resources available.
2. Set the alarm to wake them up at a specific time. Remind them about appointments.
3. Share good reads that are simple and easy to follow.
4. Help them to prioritize self-care – eat nutritiously, hydrate oneself, and take adequate rest.
GIVE CUSTOMIZED CARE
1. Some like silence, and some like reassurance. Follow their lead and communicate in a way that meets their needs. Be there physically, mentally and emotionally. Each individual is unique. So is each situation. Consider going on a walk with the person who is experiencing difficulties, sharing a meal, or engaging in simple activities with them to help them feel cared for.
CREATE CIRCLES OF SUPPORT
1. Help the person in crisis form a ‘share the care’ network.
2. Consider their support network. Tell them you can help them connect with any of their contacts.
3. Help them identify and overcome the fallacy that makes them feel helpless even among friends.
4. To better assist the individual in need, reaching out to others in your circle can help.
KNOW WHAT’S IN YOUR CONTROL
1. YBe conscious of what you can and cannot control.
2. Relieving someone else’s distress isn’t your responsibility. For someone to feel helped, you must be available.
3. Your obligation concludes with you being available and accessible to them.
4. Realize and accept that times of crisis can be hard and exhausting on those who provide assistance.
1. Don’t make any medical diagnoses or give medical advice.
2. Don’t make comparisons between similar cases in your own experience.
3. Don’t make decisions for someone else that they should be able to make on their own.
4. It is sometimes natural to feel overwhelmed while trying to help – It is OK to pause and step back.
Create Hope through Action
Where “Help Me” is a cry for help “Helpie is there to Help!