Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day. You may have seen it trending on Twitter or it being discussed on Facebook by brave people who shared their experiences. But our attitude towards talking about suicide still needs work.
It’s a concept that is thrown around a lot lately.
We all know people, sometimes ourselves, who use it in jest if they come across something that requires a little effort, (“Oh my God I’ll shoot myself if I have to go back to that class” or “X happened, kill me”, you know you’ve heard them).
Ninety-nine percent of the time, there’s nothing behind it but it can still cause damage. It’s a bit like when someone puts the plates in the dishwasher right after eating says “I’m just so OCD about that” and you’re sitting there trying to keep your mouth shut about the last seven years of your obsessive compulsive experience, perhaps feeling a little, well, irrelevant.
We all have thoughts from time to time that things just aren’t worth it. They are just thoughts and they leave our head as soon as they come in when we refocus our attention on something else. But it’s when these thoughts become a niggling, increasingly common experience, and when we begin to find ourselves nodding along with the idea, that is when a problem arises.
I’m not a doctor, nor am I a counsellor, or a psychiatrist, or anything that gives me a right to hand out information or advice with authority so I’m not going to pontificate. What I will do is quote some information that I have been given over the last few years that could save a life, whether it be yours or someone else’s.
The information provided here has been collected from Mind.org, counsellors, doctors, and various other suicide prevention and support websites.
Broaching the subject with someone you’re worried about
The key is sensitivity. Highlight anything out of the ordinary that they have been saying lately that has you worried. Be kind, be reassuring, and don’t get aggressive or angry. Don’t treat it as an attempt at attention seeking and make the person feel worse for what they are feeling. This will simply intensify the problem and shut down all methods of communication.
If they are unwilling to talk, leave them be and try again later. Very often, people are more willing to talk when they see that someone has tried to make contact. If they are still unwilling, and your worries are well-founded, speak to someone you trust like their parent, a close friend, or a counsellor.
If they say they are fine, then listen and trust them. Only those who want to be helped can be helped. If you are unsure if they are telling the truth, discuss it with someone else they know and trust, or try again. Reassure them that you’re always there if they need anyone at all. Be an ear if they need to discuss something that may appear trivial to you, usually this can help build up their confidence to talk about bigger issues.
Suggest seeking help. Don’t make ‘seeking help’ a big ordeal, that is just frightening. Gently ask if they’d like to talk to someone else about it, someone who can provide professional advice or help. Volunteer to go with them and highlight that it’s just a chat. Stress that they don’t have to partake in anything that they don’t want to and they don’t have to be with anyone on their own.
If you feel suicidal
Take things minute by minute. Don’t think about a year, a week or even an hour from now. Just work through focusing yourself on the present minute. It can help make things feel more bearable.
Tell someone how you are feeling. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or even your pet, talking to someone or something might help you feel less alone and more in control. Get them to get you further support if you feel you cannot yourself.
Remove anything that could be of harm to you. Or ask someone else to do so. If you’re in an unsafe location, leave.
Distract yourself. Focus on your five senses and steady your breath. If you’re somewhere busy, take note of the details of the buildings around you. If you’re at home, get some water and eat.
Get outside, if you feel safe to do so. This is a tricky one but force yourself to get out and get your heart rate up. Put all your energy into it.
Talk to yourself. Be kind. Tell yourself things you would tell a good friend in the same position. Do something good for you and tell yourself you can make it through the next minute, hour and day. You’ve survived 100% of the days you’ve lived so far, so you can do it again.
Challenge your thinking. Ok, I understand this is a hard one. If you could change what you were thinking, you wouldn’t be feeling this way. But if you just take one positive thought moment by moment, it will make a difference. Make a deal with yourself that you won’t act on your thoughts today. Understand that your thoughts are just that. They’re thoughts. They cannot force you to do anything and our thoughts reflect how we are feeling. Understand that if you change your thinking, you can change your world. Suicide does not end the chances of life getting worse, it just eliminates the possibility of it ever getting better. It’s simply a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Make a list of all the reasons to live. Again, if you’re in a suicidal frame of mind, this can be difficult. Keeping a list that you can take out that states all the reasons why you shouldn’t commit suicide can help immensely. Think about the people you love, the pet who will wonder where you are gone, the things you’d miss out on, the kids you’d never have, the people who would never have the pleasure of meeting you, and the success story that is you overcoming this storm that you wouldn’t be able to inspire other people with.
If someone you know or love is suicidal
Listen. Don’t brush it off as a remark. Take it seriously. Talking openly about mental health and suicide is not attention seeking. The only way to combat the blasé reaction we have towards it is to take every threat seriously.
Get them help. Remind them that talking isn’t a sign of weakness. Make that appointment and accompany them to the doctor’s office. Very often, once things are spoken about, the anxiety decreases. Understand that you cannot force anyone to do anything but being as proactive as you can can limit the chances of anything happening.
Check up on them. Make sure they’re taking their medication. If they begin to ignore your messages, have someone else check on them. But please be gentle and kind. No aggressive voicemail or texts. Remind them that they are worth every bit of life in them.
Reassure them. They are loved, they are wanted, and they have so much to live for.
Important contact details:
Samaritans (ROI): 01 872 7700
Pieta House: your local Pieta house phone number is listed on their website
If you’re a student, NiteLine is available during term time from 9pm to 2.30am, 1800 793 793.
Aware: 1890 302 302