How we respond to someone suicidal can make a huge difference to that person. Too often, our responses to people who are suicidal are #notokay and can be very harmful. These are some of the most common things that people say or do to someone suicidal that are #notokay. People who are suicidal deserve kindness, compassion and sensitivity. Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone, and people who are suicidal are not “crazy”, weak or less-than.
What is #notokay to say / do
to someone suicidal?
People who are suicidal are not selfish at all; they’re experiencing something that we can’t understand. It is never okay to tell someone who is suicidal that they are selfish.
No one with any mental health issue is crazy, and we should never call someone who tells us they’re suicidal that they’re crazy or mad for having suicidal thoughts, but instead listen and be kind and supportive.
It is a myth that people who talk about suicide are just looking for attention, and are not actually serious about doing it. When we understand that people who are suicidal are usually in deep pain or in a position where they see no other option but to end their life, we may understand why they may asking for our help or support. Even if someone does not attempt suicide, or attempts and does not die by suicide, or talks about being suicidal multiple times without attempting, does not mean that we should not take it seriously every single time. Suicide is serious, and it is always better to assume that someone is at risk, than to assume that they’re looking for attention. For many persons who are suicidal, suicidal thoughts and urges may be recurring in their lives, and every time they are suicidal we must take it seriously
This is absolutely #notokay. People who are suicidal need kindness, support and sensitivity.
It’s important to always take suicide seriously and not assume someone is lying.
While it is understandable that we may think that getting them to think about how their loved ones may feel may help them change their minds, it can actually make them feel guilty for how they’re feeling, instead of better.
This myth is common because of religious beliefs, but people who are suicidal are not “possessed” or influenced in any way by demonic factors. They are people who are struggling and need help and support.
What you can do / say
Be sensitive and kind
Be sensitive, kind, nonjudgmental and compassionate. Understand that someone who is suicidal is usually in deep pain. Try to remain calm. Actively listen if they tell you what’s going on, but don’t force them to open up. Validate their struggles, even if you don’t understand them or can’t relate. Some validating statements sound like “I’m sorry things are really difficult right now”, “I’m so proud of you for coming this far”, “I think choosing to get up everyday when you’re struggling is really brave”, “you are not a failure and you’re doing the best you can”. Remind them that you care about them and that they matter. Don’t trying to “fix” the situation, but instead offer support, or ask what you can do that would help them. Always take it seriously when someone tells you they’re suicidal, and never dismiss it, belittle it, or treat it like a joke. If someone is at immediate risk of suicide, please stay with them or do not leave them alone.
Kindly encourage them to talk to someone
One of the ways we can help is to encourage them to speak to a mental health care provider, without judgment or condescension. We can, also, offer to find someone for them to speak to, and even go with them. There are also crisis hotlines and chats that they can access if they want to talk to someone. Please click below to be taken to the directory where there are many links under the “mental health” and “online resources” sections that can direct you to more resources that can help you learn more about suicide as well as hotlines and other resources for someone who is suicidal.