Today is World Suicide Prevention Day (as you probably guessed from the title…) and while I understand that this can be a touchy subject I think it’s definitely something that needs to be talked about so that people can become more aware of the signs and places to get help.
For all you know, talking about it could save a life.
I personally have been incredibly suicidal in the past and so I know how it can feel, like you’re in a never ending spiral and how you can feel like you have no choice. People always used to tell me that I did have a choice and while that is technically true it certainly doesn’t feel like that when you’re buried under layer upon layer of depression, self-doubt, hopelessness and so many other negative emotions that you can’t even put a name to. And I also know how hard it is to get out of the cycle when you feel like you’ve gone too far under to ever come back up. But I’m still here and I’m living proof that you can escape the cycle and you won’t feel that way forever no matter what your thoughts may tell you. Below is some advice on what to say and do around a suicidal person, what could be signs someone is thinking about suicide and some helplines for anybody wanting to talk or in a crisis.
First of all, if you see someone looking down just ask them if they’re okay. It sounds like such an obvious thing to do but you don’t know the last time someone asked them that. Asking the question makes them feel like you care whether they are okay or not. If they’re not okay then just be nice to them, sure you can ask them a couple of questions to try and see if they’ll open up but if they’re not really responding then don’t push it, that’s the last thing they need. They might end up sharing something they don’t really feel comfortable you knowing or feel like they’re burdening you. However if you keep probing and they still won’t answer then they may even feel guilty for not answering you and they don’t need the unnecessary guilt. So to summarise, ask them if they’re okay, and ask them a few more questions but don’t push it unless they seem comfortable doing so. Sometimes they might want to have a rant but you really have to leave it down to what the person’s feeling like at that moment in time.
However if you think that someone is at high risk of harming themselves or suicide then contact emergency services immediately and remove any potentially dangerous items from their surroundings. Stay with them at all times.
Next are some signs that someone may be thinking of suicide – but just because you see someone do one of these things doesn’t categorically mean that they are feeling that way so don’t panic!
- Giving away their possessions. By this I mean things that are special to them or they use a lot and not just a bag of old clothes or something.
- Doing something drastic to their appearance. Cutting hair really short, dyeing it, anything that really alters their appearance. I don’t really know why this is a possible cause besides from maybe the fact that they’re clutching at straws trying to find something that might make them feel better about themselves.
- Self-harming or threats to hurt/kill themselves. This is a big warning sign as it shows you that they are not coping at all with their emotions.
- Acting recklessly without any concern for the consequences. This could be doing drugs, drinking excessively, gambling or just doing anything that could be damaging to their health and wellbeing.
- Sudden mood swings. As said on the NHS website, “A sudden lift in mood after an episode of depression could indicate that a person has decided to commit suicide.”
- Talking or writing about death and suicide. This shows that the thought is quite dominant in their mind and you should definitely be concerned.
If you’re concerned about the feelings and thoughts you’ve been having then be sure to tell your GP. If he/she thinks that it’s necessary then they may refer you to a psychiatrist (who you can talk to and can prescribe you medication that could help you in a huge way) or a counsellor/therapist. If you don’t feel up to that then any trusted adult is okay. You’re not a freak and there might not be anything wrong with you – lots of people feel this way at some point in their lives without any clear reason. Ideas of who you could talk to include: your parents or any other relative, school nurse, favourite teacher – anyone you trust really.
If you’re worried about something and just want to get it off your chest and see how you feel then the Childline website is great for under 18’s. You can talk to someone on the phone, via email, 1 to 1 chat or talk to other people in the same situation as you in the forums.
7 Cups Of Tea is another great one, it’s an app available for iphones and android products (I’m not sure about windows…) where you can just rant and let out what you want to say – and it’s all anonymous. It’s kind of like a one to one chat but the person on the other side isn’t there to give you advice, only to listen and be supportive. The listeners, as they call them, have to go through an online course in active listening before they can become a listener and so you won’t get anybody that’s going to judge you for anything.
Below are some more helplines for anybody in a crisis or just wanting advice.
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 08457 90 90 90 (24-hour helpline)
Rethink mental illness
Support and advice for people living with mental illness.
Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Mon-Fri, 10am-2pm)
CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.
Young suicide prevention society.
Phone: HOPElineUK 0800 068 4141 (Mon-Fri,10am-5pm & 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm)
But the most important fact to know, casting aside all of the statistics, is that you are not alone, you won’t always feel this way and there are so many people out there to help you. If you ever want to talk to me you can contact me through here or via the email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Air hugs to you all and thanks for reading – I appreciate that it’s a long post but it needs to be! Please share this or any other information you think would be useful and help get the message out. Thank you.