I haven’t blogged in a while because to be fair I have felt overwhelmed and am on a bit of a downswing. I’m sorry!
I wrote this yesterday, for Suicide Prevention Day, but forgot to press send 🤦♀️
Let’s start a real conversation on suicide and prevention. A real one. Not one where you try to guilt trip the person by making it all about you (“suicide does not end the pain, it just passes it on to someone else”), or how it won’t always be this way (they don’t know that).
Be present. Be loving. Ask them how they’re feeling (not in that general NT way of making polite conversation, where they don’t actually want a truthful answer), and genuinely want to know how they are feeling. Keep the door open for them, because not everyone is ready to talk about it.
Keep the door open for them. Make time for them. Show them you are there, and willing to listen, judgement free.
Help in physical ways, not just emotionally. Spend time with them; offer to pick their kids from school and take them for a bit. Help out with housework. Bring pizza round and veg out in front of Netflix together. Even if the person only wants to sit in silence, your presence is VALUED.
Show them you are there for them, and willing to listen; that you can help out so life feels a little less overwhelming.
It’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to ask for help. Sometimes people don’t know that, though, even when you have told them they can, so show them that they can! That they are loved and valued, and that they can trust you ❤️
Mental illness has no face. Suicide has no face. There is no “look”. There’s also different levels of functionality. Some people mask their feelings and difficulties. Yet there’s some signs to look out for, that a loved one may be suicidal.
These can be:
1.) Excessive sadness or moodiness: long-lasting sadness, mood swings or unexpected rage;
2.) Hopelessness: feeling a deep sense of hopelessness about the future, with little expectation that circumstances can improve;
3.) Sleep problems: too much, too little, disturbed sleep and possibly frequent nightmares;
4.) Sudden calmness: suddenly becoming calm after a major depressive episode can potentially indicate that someone may have made the decision to end their life;
5.) Withdrawal: choosing to be alone, avoiding friends and family and social activities, are possible signs of depression, a leading cause of suicide. This may include loss of interest in things they usually enjoyed;
6.) Changes in personality and/or appearance: a person who is considering suicide might exhibit a change in attitude or behaviours, such as speaking or moving with unusual speed or slowness. In addition, they might suddenly become less concerned about their personal appearance;
7.) Dangerous or self-harmful behaviours: potentially dangerous behaviour, such as reckless driving, engaging in unsafe sex, and increased use of drugs and/or alcohol might indicate that the person no longer values his or her life;
8.) Recent trauma or life crisis: a major life crisis might trigger a suicide attempt. Crises include the death of a loved one or pet, divorce or break-up of a relationship, diagnosis of a major illness, loss of a job, or serious financial problems;
9.) Making preparations: often, a person considering suicide will begin to put their personal business in order. This might include visiting friends and family members, giving away personal possessions, making a will, and cleaning up their room or home. Some people will write a note before committing suicide. Some will buy a firearm or other means of suicide, such as poison. If they take medication, they may stop taking it, or taking too much;
10.) Threatening suicide: around 50% to 75% of those who are considering suicide, will give someone (a friend or relative) a warning sign. However, not everyone who is considering suicide will say so, and not everyone who threatens suicide will follow through with it. Every threat of suicide should be taken seriously.
What can you do to help if a loved one is feeling suicidal or showing potential signs?
1.) Find out if the person is in danger of acting on their suicidal feelings: ask direct questions (such as: how are you coping; do you ever feel like just giving up?) but be sensitive. Asking these questions will not push someone to do something, or talk them into it. It instead starts a conversation and can help them discuss their feelings, potentially reducing the risk of suicide;
2.) Look for the warning signs I previously mentioned;
3.) If you notice warning signs, and the person does not want to discuss it, don’t force them too. Don’t pretend you know how they feel. Instead offer alternative ways to show that you are there for them, by helping out around the house, providing childcare, asking if they’re ok, providing a distraction if needs be (such as bringing pizza and vegging out together, in silence if needs be, in front of Netflix);
4.) If the person is in immediate danger of suicide or has attempted it, stay with them and get immediate help by calling their mental health team, the emergency services and/or Samaritan’s.
Remember that the signs you see, and the methods you choose at handling it, will vary depending on person. There is no catch all way to help; it is very person centred.