By Monique Hassan
The International Association for Suicide Prevention states that over 800,000 people a day die due to suicide with 25 times more people making attempts.
For those of us touched by suicide in some form or another, we know that this voice is an important one. The people suffering in silence need to know their voice is important, support does exist for them and they deserve to have a better quality of life where they genuinely smile at the beginning of a new day.
Some people have this misconception that people talking about suicide will not really go through with it and they are just seeking attention. Most people who commit suicide try to reach out for help; they give some type of clue to those around them. Although cutting and statements like “no one would miss me if I was gone” may seem like attention seeking behaviors, they are outward expressions of the person’s pain and can be warnings of their true intentions. They need to be taken seriously.
A person considering suicide often wants to find another way out, but they are so wrought with hopelessness they see no other route left. They may talk about death, what it is like to die or outright talk about suicide with people. You may notice behavioral changes in someone such as the use of drugs, neglecting their grooming habits, a drastic change in sleeping routines and a loss of interest in day-to-day activities they used to enjoy. Perhaps someone has a family history of mental illness or they were previously diagnosed and you suspect they stopped taking their medication.
If you suspect someone is contemplating suicide, this is not the time to be shy.
- Talk to that person in an empathetic and kind way. Ask them what they are feeling and how you can help, be sure to actively listen to understand them. Do not argue with the person or tell them they are being stupid, they are already depressed they don’t need to be insulted.
- Contact professional help and ensure them they will not go through this alone. Work alongside their treatment professionals to provide information about their day-to-day life
- Be a voice of positivity in their life; encourage them to engage in activities they used to enjoy such as hiking or painting.
- Once you think they are past the moment of crisis, talk to them about what they will do in the future if they feel those emotions again. Help them to understand their crisis plan and put numbers of emergency services on their refrigerator.
Your Voice is Important
The voices of those who have been impacted by suicide need to be heard. If you survived a suicide attempt, consider speaking to those who are currently struggling with mental health. You can be a source of inspiration and hope; you have a greater level of understanding than anyone else.
If you are a family member or friend who has been impacted by suicide, know that you are not alone and support services do exist for you. You can lend advice and support to others. You may be able to prevent a tragedy by encouraging others to step in when they suspect someone is contemplating suicide. If you are the family member of a Veteran, please contact your local VA office about the caregiver program. They provide free training, resources and stipends for caregivers of Veterans.
Suicide impacts not only the person attempting it, but all those around them. It is important to come together as a community to show support for those in need. If you see a candle lit Sunday the 10thin the windowsill of a home, know that they support you and your voice.
International Association for Suicide Prevention. https://iasp.info/wspd2017/