World Suicide Prevention Day: Tips To Help A Suicidal Friend
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 1 million people die from suicide each year. That is a lot of people! It is as a result of this alarming number that they set a day aside for suicide awareness and consequent suicide prevention.
The question on top of our minds now is what drives so many people to take their lives?
At some point in our lives, we get hits on all sides by life itself. We all have to deal with disappointments, failures, the loss of a loved one, relationship breakups, financial crises, and environmental changes. Some of us have been able to develop resilience against these blows. Many others, however, may find the burdens of life too difficult to bear and at some point, may see suicide as the only way out.
Suicide is a cry for help
The idea that someone would want to end their life due to a life challenge can be a very confronting concept for many people to wrap their minds around. It can be very hard to understand why someone has reached the point where they are considering ending their life. But for the person with suicidal thoughts, this is the only language they know how to speak at that moment.
Let’s take a small trip into the mind of a suicidal person.
Life hits them with a certain blow; it could be that they’ve been bullied all their life, told demeaning words to their face, they felt like they never really had anyone that got their back. Maybe they were abused or suffering a very deep soul wound that they’ve not been able to heal from. Probably they lost someone very dear to them, maybe their jobs even, and are in a financial crisis. They go on carrying emotional burdens that all just wear out their soul. Soon they begin to feel frustrated and exasperated. This eventually takes an emotional toll on them and even affects how they function in their daily life.
How to tell if your friend or loved one is suicidal
It is never written out plainly that someone is suicidal. While some people make their intentions clear, others keep suicidal thoughts and feelings secret and could go on for months harboring suicidal thoughts and you may not even know it until they finally perform the act.
It, therefore, helps to be on the constant lookout for your friends or loved ones who you perceive may (or may not) be going through a tough time.
Some signs you may want to look out for include:
- Constant desire to be alone, withdrawal from others, increasing social isolation
- Loss of interest in things they were ones interested in
- Appearing lost in thoughts constantly or occasional staring off in space
- Loss of interest in self-care, loss of appetite, and resultant weight loss
- Loathing in self-pity and hatred – statements such as “I’m such a burden”, “everyone would be better off without me”, “I wish I hadn’t been born”, are some of the things you might find them saying
- Indulging in risky or self-destructive things such as reckless driving and excessive alcoholism
- Developing interest in violence
- Developing personality changes or being severely anxious or agitated
- Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation
How to help a friend with suicidal thoughts
Immediately you notice your friend exhibiting the above warning signs, swing into action. We tend to get bothered about jumping too soon into a conclusion and so we may choose to make excuses instead, even though the signs are glaring at us. If you’re bothered about not making early assumptions, then it would help to speak to them about it. No, talking about suicide doesn’t give suicidal thoughts, the reverse is the case actually. If you feel you aren’t close enough to them to talk about something as sensitive as suicide, then get someone who can. Whatever you do, do not stall.
Offer them support
Most of the time, the kind of support that people with suicidal thoughts need is a listening ear, someone that pays attention to their thoughts and feelings. People with suicidal thoughts aren’t always excited or proud talking about the way they really feel. As a result of this, getting them to open up to you might be difficult but once they do, make them see clearly that you have their backs, that you’re someone they can trust. You may not be equipped with those really sweet words to say to them in response, but just listen to them. Talking is therapeutic too you know.
Help them build helpful routines
You could help your friend get professional help. A few months of therapy could help improve their mental health. When you’ve done this, it is your duty to help them follow through with the therapy. Follow up on their treatment too, encourage them to get plenty of sleep, eat healthily, get out in the sun or into nature for at least 30 minutes each day and exercise too. Remove any potential means of suicide out of the way.
Not everyone trying to end their life is a crazy person. Some might just be battling seriously with life issues. Reach out to your friends and loved ones and let them know they’re not alone in their struggles. This could help in suicide prevention.
We’ll love to hear stories about your struggles and how you handled them in the comment section. This could encourage others too. Lifestyle metro is rooting for you, with every fiber of our beings.