Today is world suicide prevention day. Suicide is one of the most difficult topics to bring up, especially if you’re experiencing suicidal ideation.
Most people are not prepared to have this conversation. It makes them uncomfortable and no one likes being uncomfortable. If you’re struggling with thoughts of wanting to end your life, it can be difficult to find someone you trust enough to open up to. Even then, your trusted source may not be comfortable with the conversation and sadly, may make light of it or brush you off in some way. This can deepen the wound you already feel and sever the trust you thought you had.
How do we accept being uncomfortable? How do we normalize talking about suicide?
No one wants to believe that someone they love and trust would not want to live. They will deny it and they will unwittingly deny them the opportunity to unburden their soul, the opportunity to feel less alone.
There are still people who vehemently believe that suicide is sinful, that you go to hell, that it’s cowardly and the act of a weak person. Judgements. These are all judgements and no one was placed on this earth to judge the life of another. If there is one thing to keep in mind when dealing with someone contemplating suicide, it’s that they are being extremely brave and you cannot feel their feelings for them, so stop trying to tell them how they should feel.
People in this world need to feel connected, valued and worthy. So keep this in mind. How can you give this to someone, anyone, each day of your life? Doing so may just save someone’s life that day.
Don’t post on social media that you’re there, that all they have to do is call you. Don’t say you’ll be up all night with someone if you won’t answer your phone after 11. Don’t say it’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem because for a person in crisis, temporary doesn’t exist.
Stop telling people to think of those they’d be hurting – do you realize how much internal hurt they are already enduring? Did you ever consider that those words would only add to that pain?
Most people contemplating suicide are doing it to ease the burden on others; they feel they are a burden. So how can you make someone feel less of a burden? How about practicing that each and every day with anyone you encounter?
“She says I’m miserable all the time. If I wasn’t here, she wouldn’t have to deal with my misery anymore.”
“He said it was such a hassle to pick me up every day. If I wasn’t here, he wouldn’t have to worry anymore.”
“She gets gifts and everyone seems to love her more than me. I don’t even exist to them, so what difference would it make if I died?”
“No one listens to me when I try to speak. I feel like I’m invisible and no one cares. They wouldn’t even notice if I was gone.”
Most people who are considering suicide don’t want to die, but they believe they have no value here and life itself is pointless. No one wants to feel unloved, invisible, forgotten, unheard and alone. Most people considering suicide are doing it for you – to lessen the burden they feel they are on your life. So lay off the guilt trips, they believe they’re making your life ultimately better.
I know it’s not true. I know it’s the worst hurt anyone could feel to lose someone this way and I know it’s not a simple grief that you just get over. I know. But I also know what I feel when I start thinking I want to die too.
On this world suicide prevention day, think of how you can make someone’s day just a little bit better, it doesn’t matter whose day, a complete stranger, a sibling, a parent, a cousin…live your life giving light to those who might need it.
And if you feel you need help, don’t be afraid to talk. Call a crisis line, talk to your religious leaders, your confidantes, your therapists, teachers and supervisors. Don’t suffer in silence. Promise me just one more breath.
Dedicated to every first responder we’ve lost to suicide; to my husband, never forgotten.