By Nancy Virden (c)2020
Recently there has been opportunity to talk about suicide and some of its complexities with people who are generally uneducated on the topic. It is always interesting to gauge responses. Most often I hear, “Yes, it is terrible” or “What a tragedy” before the person changes the subject.
For some it is too tough a subject. I even had a women take one of my original books, hand it back when she saw the title, and say, “I don’t like to read.” I am not (much) insulted when these moments occur because suicide is difficult and scary to discuss. My focus is on those who do want to learn.
Suicide is so taboo that people still disguise the suicide deaths of their loved ones under euphemisms and lies. Stigma is so strong, people are convinced they know what suicide is without having ever talked about it with a person who has been there, or with a therapist or psychiatrist, or even read scholarly, unbiased information.
All this secrecy and misinformation makes it hard for people to ask for help when they need it. A sense of failure can accompany admitting that we have reached the end of our strength, although it is brave to speak up.
How to talk about suicide with your friends, family, and community
Informed communication is necessary. No one needs more ignorant guesswork. One of the easiest clicks for sharing accurate information around the watercooler is ASFP.org. (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention). Take a look at ChooseLife.
If you are concerned about someone:
Start with your nonjudgmental observations. “I’ve noticed you might be struggling. What are you feeling?” Do not drill them.
Be unafraid and ask. “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” This is not going to put the idea in their head. They will most likely be glad someone cares enough to ask.
Without begging, screaming, or anger, let the person who is having suicidal thoughts know how much their life means to you. I want you/need you/you matter to me/I’m glad you are alive, let me help you keep it that way.
Call 1-800-TALK or if in crisis, call your emergency line. (see the bottom of this page). Most suicides are impulsive. Once through the intensity of a suicidal crisis, most people will choose life.
Today’s Helpful Word
Listen to me! For I have important things to tell you. Everything I say is right, for I speak the truth and detest every kind of deception. My advice is wholesome. There is nothing devious or crooked in it.
Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair.
*** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME
NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!