5 Ways You Can Help Someone With Suicidal Thoughts.

It’s been approximately six months since I last felt dangerously suicidal. I can proudly say that even my passive suicidal thoughts have silenced. [Read more]

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day, something I hold very close to my heart. It’s been approximately six months since I last felt dangerously suicidal. I can proudly say that even my passive suicidal thoughts have silenced, making this the first time in my adult life that I can say ‘I’m happy’ without a moment of hesitation.

“Suicide was always on my mind. It lived in both the forefront and the background for the majority of my life.”

I can’t recall the first time I felt like suicide was an option. Perhaps it was even before I even knew what the word ‘Suicide‘ meant. All I can tell you is that suicide was always on my mind. It lived in both the forefront and the background for the majority of my life. Sometimes yelling, sometimes whispering, but always present.

I’ve talked about being passively suicidal before, along with a detailed discussion on what exactly it means. At the time I was very passively suicidal with periods of being active. Both are horrible places to be and left me with no zest for any area of my life. Everything was too overwhelming, loud, and scary. The only place I felt safe was in my sleep, and even then it was seldom.

It feels different for anyone, so for me to try and explain exactly what it feels like would be very one sided.

To say that it feels like an overwhelming and deep, deep sadness also doesn’t feel accurate. There’s nothing I really can say to describe just how hopeless and dark, and terrifying feeling suicidal can be. It’s like being kidnapped by an unknown force and tortured into holding a gun to your head repeatedly. You’re seconds from death at any point and you have no idea when you might hit a breaking point. Some people have plans, others don’t and many survivors report regretting it moments after they’ve attempted, including me.

Check out Samaritans to get the facts and figures on suicide.

5 ways you can help someone experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Listen to them.

Sometimes all we need is someone who is willing to take the time to listen to us. I can’t tell you how it amazing it felt to have my doctor take an interest in my case when I first went to him with a relapse. This was a man I had met once while registering many months prior, and when I spoke to him about the eating disorder, he was more than accommodating. I’m almost 100% certain that I cried because I was so happy to simply be heard by someone, anyone, in my life. Of course, at the time, I was suicidal but didn’t breach the subject out of fear. But I have no doubt that he would have listened with the same compassion and referred me urgently to get the help that I needed.

If someone approaches you in need of help, simply listen. Show an interest in their feelings and experience. Put the phone away, make a cup of tea, and allow them to let the pain out. Most important of all show that you’re being an active listener. Don’t nod when appropriate and zone out thinking about your next vacation. Ask them why they’re feeling this way, how long, have they reached out to anyone else, and discuss ways in which they can help themselves. Also, express your own interest in helping them and ask them what they need from you as a friend, partner, etc. You’re not going to take it all away, nor will talking fix them completely, but it’s a start.

Validate, don’t minimise.

It doesn’t matter what their reason for feeling like this is. There’s a chance it might not make sense to you, but don’t write it off as overdramatic or attention-seeking. Mental illness is complex and nothing is ever straight forward. There’s usually always more going on than we’re aware of. Although everything may seem perfect on the surface, below that their whole world could feel like it’s on fire.

Please avoid using phrases such as ‘get over it’ or ‘wise up.’ Not only are you being extremely insensitive but you’re also encouraging them to stay silent rather than talk about the issue. This is a dangerous line to cross and can potentially lead the individual to continually bottle their feelings until it all becomes too much.

Most importantly of all it’s important to let them know that they aren’t being a burden or annoying in any way. This is something I’ve both thought and come across in conversation many times. No mater how awful I felt, I always felt even worse about the fact that I reached out for help. I felt like a fake and a burden even when others assured me that I wasn’t. It’s a product of society and how we’ve been taught to cope with mental health issues. But it’s important that we remind ourselves and others that asking for help isn’t weak, shameful and it certainly doesn’t make you a burden.

Point them in the direction of professional help.

Although you’re doing an excellent thing by providing your friend with a listening ear, it’s important that you also point them in the direction of professional help. There may be more going on behind the scenes that needs medical intervention, and sometimes therapy is an excellent place to start.

Take a look online or in your local area and point your friend in the direction of suicide prevention resources. If there are other issues at play such as struggling with sexuality or bereavement, there are a variety of places both online and in the local community that can offer your friend support.

It’s also important to recommend that they speak to their doctor. You may even want to offer to attend with them for moral support.

Help them make a self-care/crisis plan.

As much as I’m sure you would like to, it’s no always possible to be there for someone 24/7. It’s in these moments that it’s desperately important that there is a crisis plan in place. You can help your friend come up with a plan including the numbers of crucial people and services that can help should they be in immediate danger. Help them determine who their support system is, who they can approach and how they can go about it. But don’t just stop with a plan A. It’s best to have a plan B,C and even D should things progress further than expected.

A typical crisis plan should be completed while the individual is feeling well enough as they may be able to think more clearly. It should include the names of people and services the person can trust and feels safe contacting. They should have a clear understanding of when exactly the plan should be used such as the types of situations,thoughts, feelings etc that they may be experiencing in that moment. Finally there should be various information on how they can help calm themselves down, and they could even add a list of reasons why they need to continue fighting.

Of course, all plans are going to be different. No two people are the same and it’s important to remember this when helping them come up with their own safety plan.

Remember: Sometimes a safety plan won’t be enough. In this case, it’s important that they contact professionals. Details for local A&E departments, doctors, etc should be included in the plan as a last resort.

If you or someone you know has been effected by suicide or thoughts of suicide, please see below for a list of resources.
UK / Northern Ireland.

Find more services here.

Are you in the USA or elsewhere? Check out the following link for a wide variety of helplines across the world.

50 comments

  1. Thank you for writing this! There was a brief point of time, many years ago, when I’d suicidal thoughts. What held me back was something quite surprising. I was in a rented apartment in Mumbai. The apartment authorities didn’t want me to stay there as, according to them, a single woman (or man) was inviting trouble. My landlady gave them an assurance on my behalf that I would never cause any trouble to the apartment. This trust that she’d reposed in me made me hold myself back from attempting suicide one night, when I really felt like giving up. I’ll forever be thankful to my ex – landlady.

  2. A very sensitive topic to talk about but I agree, listening and be one with the person who are experiencing this is very essential key to help them with their situation.

  3. Thanks for sharing, this is such useful information for identifying someone that may need help and assisting in providing that help.

  4. Thank you for sharing something so important and to make people aware of how common this is. Validating someone and getting them help are so key! My older son is an addict and for years before he was on needed medication would deal with suicidal thoughts. The information you give can be so helpful in saving lives!

  5. What a great article on such an important topic. I wanted to write an article in honor of this important day to create awareness but I just didn’t feel “qualified” – you’ve done a splendid job with it!

  6. Unfortunately, I’ve known several people who have committed suicide. So your post caught my attention. While I don’t think there was anything I could have done… we had no idea… this will be helpful if there are any signs for anyone else. I hope there is no one else. You covered a difficult subject very well. Thank you.

  7. Great post and a very important topic to talk about. I feel that there should be help not only for the one experiencing suicidal thoughts but for their loves ones as well. That way it would perhaps make it a bit easier to handle, what to say and not to say, in a time where one can feel powerless and have no clue what to do. Thank you so much for sharing!

  8. I have had to deal with a lot of suicides close to me over the years. I have learned a lot from each person and their situation. The most important thing I know is that I will never understand their pain and each person makes their own choice, regardless of what I think of it. I just try to be there for them when they need me. It’s really hard and there is no easy way to deal with it.

  9. This is such a great post, it definitely gives me a knowledge to help a person who in that kind of thinking or situation. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, I really appreciate it.

  10. Thank you for sharing these tips. There are so many people in the world who need the extra support.

  11. I always say one must take care of their WHOLE self. Mind, body and spirit. Thanks for sharing this info as I know it can truly help someone.

  12. This is such important information. Depression is such an isidious disease, and it’s hard to know how to help someone who’s struggling with thoughts of suicide. I think this is going to help a lot of people.

  13. Love that these great informative articles are coming out – awareness is key to removing the stigma and facilitating the path for those that need help to get help

  14. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I really appreciate it and hope it can be of some help should you ever be in this situation, although I hope you never are.

  15. What a great informative post in such an important topic. Mental health is very important and we all should know how to identify when someone needs help

  16. I’ve been through a ton of difficult situations in my life. I always reached out for help before I crossed the line. Feelings of hopelessness, not being good enough, unloveable love to creep up on me. I find that when my mind goes there to do my best to stop myself and quote positive attributes.

  17. OMG! Thanks so much for this reminder. This year has been tough for so many people and your post couldn’t have come at a better time.

  18. This is very encouraging and a very difficult subject. Getting them to professional help seems to be the biggest help.

  19. I have not encountered somebody who I personally knew who committed suicide or who had suicidal thoughts. But basing on what I’ve read and heard, for me, the best thing would be to listen to your friends when they share their problems with you.

  20. This is really important information, and I am so glad you wrote it. I have known seven people who went on to commit suicide. None of them were close enough to me that they would have reached out to me, but you never know when someone will need your help.

  21. These are great tips. I’m lucky that it’s been a while since I’ve been suicidal. After my loss in March, I wasn’t suicidal per se, but I went through a period of thinking everything was meaningless. I’m doing a little better each day, but it’s hard.

  22. Thanks for sharing this important information. During the pandemic I know there have been a lot more mental health issues.

  23. Thanks for sharing this post. I don’t know of someone in this situation, but I like being prepared and knowing how to help.

  24. What a sad thing to think about, just today I learned that a person I care much about committed suicide due to the pandemic and lack of work. He didn’t reach out to nobody for help.

  25. This is great information. Validation is very important and I think helping make a crisis plan is super helpful.

  26. These are some great tips – I think a lot of people don’t know how to cope with people who are feeling this way so having some tips is a great starting point.

  27. This is such important information. I think it can be hard to understand how to approach someone who is having suicidal thoughts and it can be a very tenuous situation. This is SO helpful.

  28. I think validating them is so important. It’s easy to say, “Oh, it will be okay,” but if someone is depressed it doesn’t feel like it will ever be okay. I think it’s very harmful to minimalize their thoughts.

  29. This is incredibly useful in my life right now. I know of a few people suffering and I am going to try to follow all your tips. Validating and not minimizing is something I need to work on.

  30. In my life I have never been in certain difficult situations, neither on one side nor on the other, but when I think about it I believe that having a place where I can read about this and be comforted and helped is great.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recommended
"It’s so hard to navigate a racist society when you’re…
Cresta Posts Box by CP