Trigger Warning: This article contains discussions of suicide. If you or anyone in your life are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please do not hesitate to seek help. If you feel that you are currently in danger, please call or text – 988 the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You are not alone, and help is closer than you think.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Every year over a million Americans attempt suicide, that is over a million of us living with feelings of misery so massive they feel the only escape is to take their own life. We all need to do our part to make sure this number goes down instead of up. National Suicide Prevention Month was created to raise awareness for the ways in which we can all help to reduce not only the number of suicides, but also reduce the number of us living with misery and despair.
In order to do our part, we wanted to share 4 direct and simple ways in which we can help someone who may be suffering from suicidal thoughts.
If you feel that someone you know may be in danger of committing suicide, then do not be afraid to ask them about it directly. Ask this question in a caring and compassionate way and be present for whatever they may say, remember you are there to give support, not judgement. I know it can be a difficult conversation to start but if we don’t have these difficult conversations then hidden wounds will not be brought into the light and given a chance to heal.
After you have taken the first step of asking then it’s time to close your mouth and open your ears and heart. It is common for people suffering from suicidal thoughts to also feel as if they are alone, that no one cares about them and that nothing really matters. When someone is feeling like this, having someone to listen to and accept them as they are can be the difference between life and death.
After you have had this initial conversation, follow up with regular check ins to ensure their wellbeing. Intention matters, and be mindful this is not done in a patronizing manner or in a way that makes them feel infantilized. If you feel concerns for their safety then try removing anything they could use to damage themselves such as drugs, alcohol, or weapons.
Lastly, one of the most beneficial things you can do for someone suffering from suicidal thoughts is to help them receive professional help. Being a supportive friend can make a massive difference to someone, but it can only go so far. You are unlikely to have the same expertise as a mental health professional who has trained for years to assist those who are going through crisis. If the person feels intimidated by this undertaking then help them make a plan to seek professional help, maybe even make phone calls with them or accompany them to therapy sessions.
Living with suicidal thoughts can be one of the most difficult things a person can go through. Remember, you can help your loved ones through these difficult times, don’t under estimate sitting and listening to them with an open heart.