|Question: My friend is talking to me about wanting to commit suicide. He has ideas about cutting his veins with a razor. I am worried but I promised him I won’t tell his parents. What should I do? Should I talk to the school counselor?||Question: I don’t know with whom I can share this because people might think I am overreacting. But I think my cousin is suicidal. She has been depressed for quite some time and is on medications but I don’t think she takes them regularly. I try to talk to her or take her out but she won’t listen. She refuses to see her therapist. She thinks she is fat and people are talking about her behind her back. Sometimes I think he just wants attention. What should I do? Should I call a suicide helpline?|
2017 saw a beautiful teenager Hannah Baker end her life by slitting her wrists in a bathtub. The show was eye-opening, heartbreaking, emotionally-draining and most importantly, real. Depression is real. As much as it gained popularity and created awareness, it also garnered glib responses like “The show is glorifying suicide” and “If life throws you lemons, you kill yourself and blame others”.
Yes. Life happens. Some people sail through it while some others need help.
From “Thirteen Reasons Why” to “Thirteen Ways How”.
- DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS
“Her problems were not serious enough to commit suicide.” “He is crazy. Why else will he want to kill himself?” “People, who talk about it, don’t do it.” “Suicidal people are unwilling to seek help and they cannot be helped.”
Those who are not in the grips of helplessness and depression may find it difficult to understand why people are driven to end their lives. But for people going through it know how death feels like a better option than the pain. They wish that there was an alternative option to end this pain, but they just can’t see one.
- LOOK FOR SIGNS
You may know of a person going through tough times- be it a job loss or poor grades. Sometimes, a moment of crisis like a relationship breaking or a death in the family can trigger suicidal behavior. The person might show warning signs like-
|Engaging in self-destructive behavior||Changes in eating and sleeping habits||
Having trouble concentrating
|Talking about “going away” or death, in general||Withdrawing themselves||Feelings of hopelessness and guilt|
- REMEMBER SUICIDAL BEHAVIOR IS A CRY FOR HELP
“Suicide threats are just a way of seeking attention and crying for help!”
YES, IT IS. If a suicidal person turns to you, it is likely that they trust you. It is not about how bad the problem is, but how it is hurting the person who has it.
Most people are willing to talk about it when someone they love asks them. Do not be afraid that you are “giving them ideas”. Starting a conversation is helpful in itself. The person may feel less alone and more cared about. Secondly, it allows you to get help for that person. Let them ventilate no matter how negative the conversation goes.
There is no magic word to comfort them. Make sure you listen to them without passing remarks. This is a difficult thing for them to share and an understanding approach goes a long way in helping them open up. Be proactive. Instead of saying “Call me if you need me”, drop by their house, take them out, talk to them.
- NO SECRETS
You may have sworn to your friend that you will not tell anyone, but this is not the way to prove your loyalty. Share your concerns with a responsible adult or your support system. It might be tempting to help them on your own and be the hero, but it is always safe to get help.
David Foster Wallace presented a situation which can be paraphrased as,
“Consider a person who jumps from a building on fire. The person does not want to leap to their death, but they would rather die by falling than being burned alive.”
So even if this is something you cannot relate to, making them feel that you understand their point and feelings will make them feel safe.
- OFFER LOVE AND SUPPORT
It is important to effectively support someone who is at risk. Even if you do not agree with their ideas and decisions, it is vital that you show them respect. People who are contemplating suicide often feel shameful about and your indifference or judgemental attitude is going to worsen it. “I am here for you” is a vital step in the healing process.
- FIND A GREAT THERAPIST
Going to a therapist is a radical step, more so if the person in question is dealing with suicidal thoughts. The ideal therapist is not one who has the best reputation. The ideal therapist is someone with experience with suicidal clients and someone your loved one finds helpful and reliable.
- CALL 911
Call a suicide helpline when there is still time. If they have a specific plan or time in their head, dial the emergency number. Your loved one is going to be angry with you. You are going to feel guilty for breaking their trust. There will be police and hospital involved. But in the end, you are going to know that you gave them another chance to try!
- DO NOT LEAVE THEM ALONE
You may not be able to be around them 24×7 but try your best to keep an eye on them. Also, look out for means like pills, sharp objects, etc. Try to remove them from their reach as much as practicable. However, do not be forceful or violent with them.
- FROM CRISIS TO RECOVERY
“This too shall pass”
Most people with suicidal thoughts believe that with time things will get better. Give them a reason to hold on. Take steps to resolve the immediate crisis and make sure they continue therapy to prevent relapse.
- SELF CARE
You can’t pour from an empty cup. It can be very hard to take care of a person whose life is in danger. Consider seeking therapy for yourself. You need to make sure that you are healthy enough for others to lean on to you.
Sometimes, even after you have tried, someone dies by suicide. This gives rise to a multitude of emotions. Some feel guilty, others feel angry. Some feel nothing at all- they are consumed by the grief to feel anything. People feel uncomfortable to discuss it and try to avoid the topic. But when that sadness begins to interfere with your life, it is a sign that you talk to someone about it.
Or just talk to us! We are here to help you.