HOW TO SUPPORT SOMEONE WHO IS SUICIDAL
Category: mental health
Depressed sorrowful black man feels unhappy to lose water battle game (cc: freepik)
What you do when you notice signs that someone close to you is suicidal or mentally down is important. Yes, it might come as a shock to you that someone close to you is suicidal but at the same time your reaction is very important at that moment.
Some questions might come up in your head. “How? How can someone you love and care about want to die?”. The thing is, life happens to every one of us and some people find suicide to be the solution.
According to Rethink Mental Illness, people think about suicide for different reasons. Some of these reasons include:
- Difficult life events. Such as a traumatic childhood or experiencing physical or emotional abuse,
- Something upsetting or life changes such as a relationship ending or a loved one dying,
- Anger at other people,
- Misusing drugs or alcohol,
- Living alone or having little social contact with other people,
- Having a mental health condition such as depression, schizophrenia, or personality disorder,
- Having a physical health condition, especially if this causes pain or serious disability, or
- Problems with work or money.
As shocking as the situation might be If your loved one happens to tell you how they feel, he or she has just handed you a gift. He or she is letting you in. By telling you how they feel at that moment, they are allowing you to help. Whatever you do or say to them from then on can either let them open the door even wider or shut the door permanently. With that said, here are some ways you can support someone who is suicidal;
- Don’t judge
Judging anyone in this kind of situation can intensify their suicidal thoughts or discourage him or her from opening up to you again. It could also lead them to commit suicide outrightly. You must ensure that they feel safe talking to you.
- Listen with empathy
You must make sure the person you are trying to help feels heard. The more you listen to him or her the more you understand where he or she is coming from and the less alone they will feel. The more they feel heard, the more they see light or hope in their future.
- Be Patient
It can be very difficult for someone with suicidal thoughts to process and talk about their feelings easily so you must be patient with them.
- Ensure their safety
If they’ve displayed any risk of harming themselves please remove anything. You must ensure they are always in a safe environment. If they have high intent or impulsivity, you should request help by calling a crisis line or emergency line.
- Don’t jump straight to conclusion / Problem Solving
If you go straight to problem-solving without finding out the underlying problem of what he/she is going through you will come across as unhelpful, unrelatable, overly impulsive and he/she won’t reach out to you again. It’s important to come from a place of deep understanding, you must genuinely work together with them in fighting out their pains. Words like “you should go out more” or “Other people have worse problems and they haven’t killed themselves.” should not be used on a victim.
- Show how much you love them
One reason someone might think of committing suicide might be the lack of love around him/her. You must remind them of how much you love them and that they have never been a burden. People that are suicidal believe others will be better off without them so you must make them feel like they matter.
- Remind and Empower them
Reminding them about their achievements, accomplishments, their strength, positive traits and how proud you are of them could go a long way in making them see hope in themselves.
- Don’t try forcing conversations
Sometimes just sitting next to them and listening to them can go a long way. Show them that they are not alone, hugging them without any expectation can mean the world to them.
- Help Them check in with a Professional
At some point, you must seek professional care from a mental health expert or a therapist. You must encourage them gently about therapy and take steps to make this easier. One way to make these steps easier is by gifting them a healthstart plan that enables them to talk to a professional from time to time.
In conclusion, your answer may mean the difference between the person feeling judged and even more alone – or accepted and understood.