Supporting Someone With Suicidal Thoughts
Driving down the highway, having struggled for several months with depression and trying to deal with it by harming myself, the thought entered my mind… it would just be so easy to pull down the wheel and let a car wreck do the rest. I was fortunate that thoughts like this only surfaced a couple of times but for some it is a daily struggle.
Suicidal feelings are different for everyone who experiences them. For some, it is abstract thoughts about ending their own life or believing that others would be better off without them, and for others, involves thinking about ways they might end their lives or clear, specific plans.
Supporting someone who is struggling with these thoughts can be scary and we can feel ill-equipped. Remember, the majority of people who experience suicidal thoughts go on to lead healthy and happy lives. However, it is vital that anyone who shares these struggles with us feels heard and supported. These are four ways you can help someone in your life who is experiencing suicidal thoughts:
Connect them with professional help - This is the first and most important thing you should do - it’s essential that you aren’t their only support. Research resources and encourage them to reach out to a doctor, counsellor or other mental health professional. There are also online services where you they can chat to someone. A great place to start is https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Connect them with others going through similar things - being part of a group of people dealing with similar issues has been shown to help people find healing that lasts. There are online support groups if there isn’t anything appropriate in your local area.
Offer practical support - offer to go with them to appointments, research and share resources, make dinner on hard days, offer babysitting or take on chores. These kind of things can make everything a little easier and let the person know you are there to support them.
Make plans for fun - organize things to look forward to, whether for coffee somewhere new in a couple of days or a road trip in a couple of months, anything that you will both enjoy.
Let the person know you are there and are willing to support them and find someone you can you can talk to confidentially - it is important to make sure you are supported when you are caring for others.
If you or someone you know is struggling with the issues, there is help available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1 800 273 8255 - any time, 24/7. For more information on these topics, email us - firstname.lastname@example.org - and we will share resources with you.