Wednesday 17 January 2018

Discussing Suicide

By Roiben

Trigger Warning: Before reading this post, take a moment to consider its contents: it discusses Suicide and Mental Illness. If reading about Suicide is likely to make you feel worse, or trigger any urges to cause yourself harm, I ask that you simply look away from this post until a time when you feel more able to handle it.

Depression (and Mental Illness as a whole) is a thief and a murderer. It steals everything, little by little. Your self-worth, your enjoyment of your hobbies, your energy and motivation and then, at its worse, it can steal the will to live. The very spark of life goes out and existing becomes harder and harder to justify. Your mind screams at you to end it now! To stop the suffering.

Before you know it, you are planning your very demise. The end of you. You obsess over the many methods, whether “accidents” like getting run over by a car or train. Or the more planned occurrences: The overdose, the cuts, the alcohol, the ligature. All call to you, tempting you to make your final plans and get it over with.

This is what it is to be Suicidal.

This constant fight in the mind itself to end. Any way possible. As soon as possible. It is a constant distraction, 24/7, every waking hour. It even permeates your dreams. You plan in your sleep the best ways to die. Then, in the day time you wonder if you should get your affairs in order. Clear that debt, pay that bill, make sure X has that game, or Blu-ray, or teddy they have always liked.

There is a panic, initially, so much to sort out, to work out, to plan. But, then, when the decision has been made, there is a sense of calm. It will be over soon. Everything is in hand, plans are set, times are planned. It will be perfect and it will be over. There will be no more suffering. There is a sense of relief.

It is often said that those who are suicidal have an apparent “up-swing”. They seem better, happier, calmer. This is that calm. It comes from seeing a way out. An end to the horrible pain being felt inside. Because often, pain and suffering is all the Depression (and other Mental Illnesses) leave behind. They swallow the spark of life and leave only darkness and pain – emotional, physical, spiritual, existential pain. People who are suicidal only want to die as they see it as the only way to end the pain.

So, what can be done? Being willing to listen, to hear out all that is wrong and painful and concerning without dismissing or belittling experiences and feelings.

Then, suggest that there may still be other options. Other things that can help to dissipate the pain. There is help available. Medication, therapy, GPs, Psychiatrists. Not to say “Never”, but instead to say “Not yet”. To encourage trying everything else first.

As someone once said to me: “You can always die another day, another hour, but try this first”.

This validates the suffering, appreciates that the person is suicidal and desperate to end the suffering they feel inside but offers alternatives to try first. It doesn’t say: “This is the cure”. It says “This may help”. In my experience, it is the most successful approach ever taken.

Most important of all, be there, be willing to listen. Don’t brush things aside as insignificant or a sign that the individual needs to “buck up” and “pull themselves together”. There is nothing worse than being told if you just “thought positively” or “pulled yourself together” or “focused on the good things in life” things would be better. As though the person has not already tried.

I will end with three key things to remember:

  • Does the fact that someone chooses not to go through with it mean they were not suicidal? No.
  • Does the fact that someone has tried to end their life but is still alive mean they were not really suicidal? No, and it doesn’t help to dismiss it as a “cry for help” or “attention seeking”.
  • Can there be help, support and appreciation of the very bleak desperation behind being suicidal? Yes, and there needs to be more of it. If you can, be that someone who helps.


About the Author

You can find Roiben on Twitter (@roiben).


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