Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Here are a few tips to help prevent people from feeling hopeless:
Listen. Most often this is all people want. It might appear as though they want you to solve their problems, but that’s not usually the case. Most often, they just want someone to listen to them and allow them to vent. They might vent about the same things over and over again but that’s just them trying to make sense of their situation. It’s a good sign if they’re trying to make sense of things. It means they want to get better.
Don’t blame them. Even if they are responsible for a lot of their situation, blaming them isn’t going to help. Focus on troubleshooting ways to get out of the situation. You want to get them out of their despair, not drive them deeper into it.
Do not assume it’s ‘just for attention.’ Do not dismiss someone’s pain this way. Even if someone is not 100% serious, they are obviously in tremendous pain or they wouldn’t be telling you how desperate they feel. And if they are serious, dismissing their pain will only make them feel more alone.
Don’t tell them they are overreacting. We all feel pain and go through hard times. Maybe you think you’d act differently and wouldn’t go to such extremes, but we cannot measure someone else’s pain with our own ruler. We are all different and we all experience life differently. And more often than not, feelings of suicide don’t stem from one situation but from a barrage of painful instances. Plus, when you tell them they are overreacting, you’re confirming what they already know in their bones – they cannot handle living.
Don’t say ‘it’s not my responsibility.’ We’re all humans and we’re all connected. If you love someone and you say it’s not your responsibility, then well, you don’t understand what that word means. And even if you don’t even know someone, guess what, we’re all responsible for each other. Most of you are religious people and that’s a fixture of all religions. It’s our job to cherish one another.
Most importantly, remember this – people who are suicidal believe their situations will never change, regardless of the choices they make. They believe they are flawed beyond repair and will only damage those around them. They feel ashamed of themselves and ashamed of their lives. Think before you act – will what you say enforce this belief or will it make them see this isn’t true?