No one gets why people choose to take their own lives. Those on the outside looking in sometimes believe it’s a selfish act.
The truth is – family, friends, or community members want to believe they could’ve done something to stop the person. They also want answers as to why their loved one chose suicide.
I’ve had thoughts of committing suicide since I was fourteen-years-old. It still crosses my mind in dark times.
My past experience with suicide allows me to offer advice on helping someone in this situation and hopefully understanding for those around them.
HOW TO HELP
Most considering suicide feel there’s no way out. They’re suffering, and they don’t want to suffer any longer.
Sometimes they believe no one will care if they die. Other times, it’s the opposite — they know people care, but the pain is so unbearable, it doesn’t matter.
Maybe this is where the idea of selfishness comes in? (However, that’s not a fair accusation for someone in that level of pain. But, I digress.)
If you know someone who may be on that ledge, here are some tools and knowledge to potentially help:
I’ll start with this, verbal support is great and in my experience, knowing people care is super important.
However, as I mentioned previously, it’s not always about that. It’s more about escaping the situation permanently. For those individuals, I’d personally relate to them by saying this:
“I know the corner of the maze you’re sitting alone in. I’ve etched my initials there many times. It feels like there are dead-ends after every turn, and you don’t have the energy to keep searching for the right path. The sadness, the madness, are all too much and it’s exhausting. I’m sitting at the exit shining a light for you but I can’t help you until you reach a certain point and see that glimmer. You can hear me but your brain might not not be able to process what I’m saying in this moment. There’s a lot of chaos. A lot of fog in there. And that’s okay because the point is: I’m here. Sitting with you. Even if you can’t see me, I’m here.”
If you’ve never thought about taking your own life, this may be difficult to grasp and understand.
Imagine fighting a battle against something you can’t even see. Every day of your life. Imagine that, for no reason at all, your heart accelerates and your thoughts swan-dive into a downward spiral. Your own mind can convince you things will never get better, that your life will always be like this. You’ll want to find a way out.
A PERSONAL POINT-OF-VIEW
I’ve been there several times in my 38 years surviving this disease. When I was 20-years-old, I started having panic attacks. I was under a great deal of stress and didn’t realize the toll it was taking on me mentally.
One night, my body began shaking so bad, it felt like I was seizing. I began sweating profusely and started experiencing thoughts I’d never had before. I worried I might be going insane. I locked myself in my bathroom and cried for hours that night.
This went on nearly every day for the next two months. By the end, I had lost about 25 pounds and felt I had no options — I just wanted it to be over.
I researched ways to kill myself and decided an overdose was the bravest I could get. I’d been prescribed a bottle of Xanax a few days before and concluded that would be my best bet.
The day I planned to do it, I ended up sitting down with my mom and dad and telling them I was having a “hard time.” This was an understatement…
I told them I needed to go somewhere to get help. I convinced them to take me to the emergency room, where I was placed on what’s called an M-1 hold. It’s a psychiatric hold that allowed the hospital psychiatric unit to hold me for 72 hours until they could prescribe a suitable medication regimen to make me feel better and give me a little hope.
HEAL WITH HOPE
Having hope is the only way through suicidal ideation. Hope comes in many forms, such as family, friends, and a sense of community. Exercise and proper medication can promote hope as well. Depending on the severity of the situation, one or both of these could be options for someone.
If you know someone you believe to be a danger to themselves (or someone else) and talking does NOT help, work on getting them to the emergency room for evaluation. This can happen either voluntarily or involuntarily. If the person isn’t on board with this idea, you can call 911. No one wants to be the one to have a loved one sent to a behavioral health unit; however, it could save their life. If those considering suicide can’t be strong for themselves, they need their loved ones to be strong for them.