Suicide is a difficult topic for many people and can feel uncomfortable to discuss. The reality and the truth are that we need to talk about suicide. We NEED to talk about SUICIDE. Suicide is painful, and suicide is being vulnerable. It is not a dirty secret we need to hide from.
When someone you know is feeling suicidal
Most people who have never felt suicidal will most certainly ask, “Why?” The “Why” is different for each person but it is almost always inevitably about being in mental pain, even anguish. For those who are dealing with these very painful thoughts, for whatever reason, have decided that the pain they carry is insufferable. There are individuals who frequently feel suicidal and there are some people where suicide is something they have come to feel after a series of events and intense feelings have exhausted them.
If you suspect someone is feeling suicidal find the courage to address your concern and ask if they are having thoughts of suicide. (This may come as a relief to those who are struggling- someone who cares enough to ask.) Individuals who struggle with suicidal thoughts may be trying to protect others from knowing so they do not feel like they are burdening anyone. Your gentle inquiry about those thoughts may not necessarily get someone to open up to you but it may inspire them to seek further help.
Always be gentle. Take care in understanding how difficult it is for someone to admit to having feelings of suicide. It is a very intimate topic- refrain from shaming. Be supportive. You may not have the resources to get them help but you can help them call the Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255). Literally, pick up the phone and dial, and get them talking to someone who can help.
Additional ways you can help when someone is feeling suicidal is to ask if they have a plan to end their life. If you know they have been planning it- try to gently encourage them to get rid of the means/ways (discard or give up pills, give someone a gun for safe-keeping, etc.) If they say they have plans, ask when they are following those plans. If their plans are immediate, it will be best to call for help by dialing an emergency line- 9-1-1 and stay/talk with the individual until help arrives.
Be aware- although someone denies having a suicidal plan it does not mean they are safe and won’t need help and support. Early intervention is crucial- continue encouraging them to seek help.
Suicide Prevention Hotline- 1-800-273-TALK
When you are feeling suicidal
It’s difficult to feel like you can be open with someone about how you feel, especially when you have thoughts of suicide. You might feel like you are burdening someone else by reaching out and asking for help. You might not even know what kind of help you want or what kind of help there is because suicidal thoughts can sometimes feel like the only answer.
You are likely in a great deal of pain and perhaps feeling as if nobody can ever understand that pain. Sometimes the pain we carry is about feelings of guilt. Sometimes it is about never feeling good enough or on-going physical pain. Wherever this pain comes from- each of our stories may be alike or very different- nearly everyone has experienced significant pain at some point in their lives. We don’t all show people our pain – know that you are not alone in the world. It can be difficult to see how any of us have overcome or worked through the pain we feel because we tend to want to hide those difficult feelings.
Try to consider reaching out for help. This can mean calling the Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) and speaking anonymously to someone. Perhaps it can be making a call to your doctor to setup an appointment on what you can do for more help. Maybe it can be letting a loved one or friend know “I need some help and can use your support.” If it’s uncomfortable to say those words, consider writing a note or a letter asking for help and sitting with a trusted friend while they read your note.
Make the commitment that today you will stay safe. Today you will reach out. Sometimes the energy needed to seek help means only being able to focus on each moment as it comes. Be patient with yourself. It takes time to sort through your pain. Finding help will be your first step toward recovery.
Creative Pathways- Rochester Art Therapy- specializing in treating the Highly Sensitive Person, is devoted to helping individuals face their struggles in a supportive and gentle way. Let us help you achieve your personal goals and develop in-depth solutions. If you would like to learn more and meet with a therapist, please contact us today to determine how we can help.
Sheilagh is an Artist and Art Therapist who believes in healing with art and creativity.