Are We Ready To Talk About Suicide?
Last September 10th was World Suicide Prevention Day. That is, a few days ago, depending on when I have the courage to post this.
I think it's very important to have days like this to make suicide visible, it is urgent, in fact. Although mental health has had more exposure in recent years, last Friday I couldn't help but wonder: Are we ready to talk about this? Are we REALLY ready?
I read a lot of tweets, saw a lot of infographics and images with messages of support. It's like, yeah, we all know that people commit suicide and that someone we love has probably had suicidal thoughts. But what do we do about it?
It's not enough to acknowledge the problem. We must be prepared to face it, experience it up close, and deal with it.
I know that many of you reading this have the tools to handle this situation. However, I know that there are many who don't. This is still an uncomfortable topic, something we don't want to see or witness often.
We need more informative articles with real facts and instructions on how to deal with suicide. Illustrations with motivational quotes do not solve anything.
How do you actually help someone with suicidal thoughts?
As someone who dealt with these thoughts myself, I know what you want to hear and what you don't. Also, people I love have been through the same, so I've been on both sides.
First of all, keep an eye out for the signs. A suicidal person will hardly express what they are feeling to you. Do you notice that someone sleeps a lot or very little? Show little interest in socializing and having projects? Do they express themselves in a hopeless way?
Listen without judging. Show that you are concerned about what happens to that person, but don't make judgments or minimize the situation. Don't compare their feelings with yours at all, or say that everything will pass in a few days.
Don't try to fix it. The solution is not to exercise or go out more. If someone confides in you that they have had thoughts of self-harm, it's not your responsibility to correct that. Don't offer miracle cures. It's not about providing the solution, it's about offering support and empathy.
Take real action. In this situation, words of encouragement feel empty and insignificant. "I'm here for you", "If you need something just call", those offers are not much use. Visit them, call them, don't wait for them to communicate because it will rarely happen.
Offer them to seek professional help. Suicidal thoughts are a disease like any other, we cannot get out of it alone. If you notice that someone you love is going through this, encourage professional help. An open helpline, a medical help center, any specialized service on the subject.
I know you care because I care. This is a difficult situation for everyone involved, but it becomes less harsh if we are together.
When you feel that you don't want to live anymore, you forget all the love that surrounds you. Words alone will not remind us. That is why we must act actively on the problem.
Show care and love in your actions. Listen openly and offer understanding and support. This isn't an easy thing to do, but we need all of us to try.
You are loved.