It can happen to anyone.
There really isn’t a stereotype of “people who have suicidal thoughts”.
It could be you; it could be me, it could be your aunt, uncle, mother, father, sister, brother.
Sunday 10th September is World Suicide Prevention Day. The theme is “Take a minute, change a life”… this couldn’t be more true.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, it must be taken seriously. You can call a crisis support line, but if you’re in danger of hurting yourself, you should present to the Emergency Department of your nearest hospital.
Some people start out having a fleeting thought every now and again, and this can progress to being “actively suicidal”, that is, making a plan and getting ready to act on it. Usually, this is when the frequency and the intensity of the thoughts have increased. When someone starts entertaining these ideas, believing that it’s a good option, or the only option, and starts thinking about the details, alarm bells should be ringing.
Often people who are feeling suicidal do not share their thoughts or feelings; they don’t tell people they are thinking about killing themselves, which makes it harder to help them. However, often there are signs that someone isn’t coping. It might be that they have a diagnosed mental illness and those symptoms are worsening; they may be withdrawing from family, friends and social activities. Or perhaps someone has just lost someone they love. Or something stressful has happened in life with which they are struggling to cope. They may have recently been diagnosed with a chronic or terminal illness. Perhaps financially they are under strain/stress. These are all warning signs that something could be going on for your friend, colleague or loved one.
Some people do talk about how they are feeling to someone they trust. Some people will say things like “I just want to die”, “I wish I were dead” or even “I think I should just kill myself” (and many more alarming things). These are massive warning signs that this person is at risk of self-injury or suicide. This is when support for that person needs to step up a few notches.
People who are feeling like ending their lives need friends and family around. They need these people to stick by them and ride out the storm with them. These people are often the only link to reality and the world outside their own head. This support, love and care could be enough to keep someone from ending their life. Many people who have tried to end their lives have reported actively seeking out people who they thought would see their despair and ask them if they were OK. Sadly, that doesn’t always happen; people don’t see the struggle nor do they ask “Are you OK?”
A person who is experiencing suicidal thoughts also, very importantly, and urgently, need professional support. They need to see a psychiatrist and even a psychologist to help them get through this. They may even need to be hospitalised to keep them safe.
It’s almost impossible to remember when you’re in that headspace that support is available; to feel like you are not alone. It’s impossible to believe that you can get through this, that you can survive this. That’s often when people need other people to remind them. To tell them again and again that people are here to help them. That people around them love them and care for them. That reaching out for help is a GOOD thing. That knowing the limits of their ability to cope and asking for help is BRAVE, not a sign of weakness. That accepting help is WISE.
In Australia, there are a lot of resources available to us. I can only hope that there are similar services in other countries around the world. Other than the crisis phone numbers, the information on the following websites should be useful for people living around the globe.
MensLine Australia – 1300 78 99 78
Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
Veterans and Veterans’ Families Counselling Service – 1800 011 046
Other Resources (not for Crisis)
Other posts on this topic: RU OK? Day 2016