Helping The Suicidal
“We all want to be, want to be somebody
Right now, we’re just looking for the exit.”
Many people experiencing depression, mental illness or suicidal feelings are feeling alone. They feel like an outcast, like they don’t matter, like they are not providing anything positive to society and that the world would be better off without them. They’re feeling so low that they can’t see themselves ever feeling happy again. This is why they think that ending their life is the only way out of this pain. Those who are suicidal do not want to die; They want to end their pain.
Suicide is more common than you think. Each year, about 36,000 people in the United States die by suicide. That means that within 365 days, 36,000 people in America alone are taking their own life.
Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for those aged 15-24 and the 2nd leading cause of death for those 25-34.
Yet there is still such a huge stigma; a burden to all of those suffering.
If someone confides in you with feeling suicidal, don’t assume they are joking. If someone jokes about something, that means they are thinking about it.
Talk about it
Don’t dance around the subject. No topic should be taboo for you to talk about with someone because what is taboo is a myth. You create the essence of what is taboo. Let this person know that their feelings are normal. They are not weird or fucked up just because they feel things differently than you do. By making them feel like they’re different than you, you’re making them feel like an outcast. You’re telling them that they shouldn’t be alive because they’re different, which will increase the feelings they are already having.
Let them live
Bring them places outside, be amongst nature, urge them to spend time with mutual friends and family. This is important because many times, when people are feeling suicidal, they will distance themselves from those they care about most. Go visit them, buy them lunch or surprise them with a small gift – anything to make them feel special. I would recommend against continually buying them things that are expensive for you because these objects aren’t going to make them happy. A kind and random gesture is more needed. I also recommend against going to a bar, as you should want to keep them away from alcohol and drugs at this time. These will only increase their negative feelings and cause them to not think clearly. If they are an adult, don’t feel like you need to watch or monitor their actions 24/7, but tell someone they care about or help them get help.
Make sure that they are getting the help they need
Many people with suicidal thoughts will go to a doctor or psychiatrist for antidepressants, but these shouldn’t be their only tool for coping with these thoughts. It is recommended that if a person is taking antidepressants, they should also be seeing a therapist regularly. The combination of therapy and medication is crucial, especially in the early stages of these thoughts and feelings. You want them to be comfortable with telling someone things who has a complete confidentiality with them.
Try not to say “commit suicide” around them
The word commit is associated with a crime, and feeling suicidal should not be looked at as a crime because this is something that will further distance them. I know many organizations who prefer “completed suicide” or “took their life”.
A trend that I have come across is that some people will say, “Oh, I never thought they would feel suicidal [or take their own life]! They seemed so happy.” The suicidal thoughts are speaking to people telling them that they are better off dead and that no one cares about them. Their complete being is taken over and they many times feel like they have no control over it. You have no idea what a person is really feeling, even if they confide in you with their problems occasionally. Suicidal thoughts are a pain that cannot be seen, unlike a broken leg. People walk around every day with these feelings and many times, even those closest to them don’t have any idea.
If you are the parent of a child with these thoughts, don’t question where you went wrong. This can happen for a multitude of reasons, including bullying, assault, or mental illness. What you can do is get them the help they deserve and not tear them down or make them feel lower than they already are.
If someone confides in you with feeling suicidal, don’t assume they are joking. If someone jokes about something, that means they are thinking about it. Ask them to clarify what they mean or ask what they are feeling, and take the time to show that you care, whether that be calling that person on the phone or going to see them in person. Spend time with them and don’t let them be alone with their thoughts.
If you are feeling suicidal, know that you are not alone. Your feelings are valid and they are very real. But there is hope and help out there. Please text 741-741 (Crisis Text Line) to reach a trained Crisis Counselor within minutes. This service is free, anonymous and available 24/7.
You are loved, and you have purpose.