How many deaths will it take?
Suicide has been described by some as an epidemic. It is silent. No one knows you are dying until you’re gone. And yet, there are so many signs that you are crying out for help. According to The World Health Organization approximately 1 million people die each year from suicide.
Who is listening?
I know that you are in pain. But you are not alone. Feeling this way does not mean that you are weak or that you are crazy. It does mean that you should seek help. It means that you are going through so much pain right now that you don’t see a way out, that you do not know how to cope at this time.
Give yourself time. You can overcome your problems. And with support, your problems and the pain and the suicidal feelings will pass.
That’s what friends are for
If you have heard someone speak about suicide, take it seriously. It is not a joke. Even if, or especially if, they joke about it. It is a call for help.
A subtler, but equally dangerous, warning sign of suicide is hopelessness. When people feel hopeless they may speak about “giving in” or about “unbearable” feelings, or talk about how bleak their future looks and that they have nothing to look forward to.
Others have panic/anxiety attacks/depression. Often times, persons do not want to speak about how they feel. They are afraid of being judged or maybe they don’t want to burden you, their friend, with problems.
You can’t just look at someone and know that they are suffering. Sometimes, it is that guy or gal who is the life of the party who is feeling most alone. They make you laugh, they ensure that you have fun because they are all too aware of what it means to be lonely and to have no one to understand or support you.
Suicide is a hard topic to talk about. In many societies, it is taboo. And in most cultures the individual as well as their family is stigmatized. But this does not make the problem disappear. It’s never easy telling someone about your mental health. It’s never easy trying to explain the heavy feeling in your chest, the cloud in your brain, the lack of motivation you have, and whirlwind of sad thoughts constantly sitting in the back of your head, your feeling of not being good enough.
No one wants to hear that someone they love is thinking of taking their own life. That is hard. Persons most often do not know what to do with the information. They don’t understand what is happening, so they get angry at you, the situation, themselves. They feel helpless.
What can you do?
Don’t make jokes about mental health.
Tell your friend that you are worried. It may be uncomfortable, but it shows that you care.
Listen. Allow them to vent.
Do not judge them.
Do not promise confidentiality
Do not act shocked or promise to fix the situation
Do be supportive. They need a friend
Encourage a healthy life style – sleep, exercise, good food/nutrition
Encourage them to seek professional help
In closing, although it might seem as if your pain and unhappiness has no end, the shame, embarrassment, guilt, heavy feelings are temporary. A solution can be found. You are just too wrapped up in the situation to see it right now.
The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind and the wind is everywhere.