Please Note: I am not an expert; however, I volunteered for three years on my local distress line and have gained experience in this area. And you don’t need to be an expert to start the conversation. Let’s talk about suicide.
Let’s Talk About Suicide
September 10th is Suicide Prevention Day. As twenty-something millennials it is normal to feel some anguish or confusion about the future. However, there is a line between “What am I doing with my life?” and wanting to end your life. We definitely live in a culture where suicide is made light of with our language, we say things like, “If ____ happens then I’m going to just kill myself.” Or, “I’m so tired I could just die.” I am 100% guilty of doing this myself. Speaking in this way diminishes the experience that someone who is thinking of suicide might be having. It also might make it harder to recognize when someone is being serious about their thoughts.
Suicide is something that is highly stigmatized. Some families who have experienced a loss to suicide never talk about it. That loss is swept under the rug. In turn, this closes the doors for conversation if other family members are experiencing those same thoughts. However, this is tragic because simply knowing someone who has killed themselves increases risk of suicide. Talking about suicide is the only way to break down these barriers. If you are thinking about suicide you are not alone and there is help. Let’s talk about suicide and open those doors.
Let’s Talk About You
If you are genuinely thinking about killing yourself or having thoughts of doing so even if you aren’t intending on doing it, then it is very important to get some help. There are likely professionals in your area or you can talk to your family doctor about getting help. Talking to professionals or asking for help can be very scary and intimidating. It takes a lot of courage to admit that things aren’t right and a lot of strength to seek out help. Unfortunately, when it comes to mental health issues the first person you speak to might not be helpful or supportive. This is understandably very discouraging, but please don’t give up on it if the first person you speak to isn’t helpful. You are worth everything. Keep searching until you find someone who understands.
If you find yourself in this place and are feeling alone or like no one cares, please know this is false. Often when people are experiencing suicidal thoughts they might feel this way but the reality is that there are people out there that do care.
Often times when someone is having suicidal thoughts it is less about wanting to die and more about wanting to end the pain that a person is experiencing. This pain can take many different forms and varies by the individual. Whatever pain a person is in is valid. And wanting to end that pain is normal. This life and death struggle is referred to as ambivalence. If you are experiencing pain, there are other ways of ending it.
Lets Talk About Help For Others
If you suspect that someone you know is thinking about killing themselves it is okay to just ask them. You won’t plant any ideas. Make sure that you ask the question directly, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” This opens up the door for conversation. A person who is not thinking about killing themselves will give a hard no. Someone who is may give a vague or non-answer or a just plain honest, “Yes.”
One of the reasons it’s important to have a conversation is that someone who is in that place may be experiencing perceived isolation. This is where they believe no one cares or no one would miss them if they were gone. While this is often far from the truth it is a common part of the negative spiral a person finds themselves in when they are depressed.
And please, never, ever, tell someone to, “Just get over it” or “Snap out of it.” This is more damaging than you could ever realize. And depression, suicidal thoughts or any other mental health concerns are so much more complex than this.