Life can be tough, and sometimes it throws us curveballs that we never saw coming. One of the most difficult challenges a person can face is dealing with suicidal thoughts or having survived a previous suicide attempt. In these dark moments, a little bit of support, understanding, and even a touch of humor can go a long way. So, grab a cup of coffee, get comfortable, and let’s dive into the world of supporting those who need it the most. This blog will provide insight, awareness, and actionable tips that will provide you with information to support those you love who are struggling.
Acknowledge the Struggle, Embrace the Person:
When someone confides in you about their suicidal thoughts or previous suicide attempts, it’s essential to validate their feelings and make them feel heard. Avoid being dismissive or judgmental, and instead, create a safe space for them to express their emotions openly. Remember, you might not understand everything they’re going through, but your empathy and support can make a world of difference.
Be a Ray of Sunshine:
While the topic at hand may seem heavy, don’t be afraid to infuse some light-heartedness into your conversations. Use humor to break the tension but be mindful of crossing any boundaries. A well-timed joke or a funny meme can help lift their spirits and remind them that there is joy to be found, even in the darkest of times. For some this will be beneficial while others may feel dismissed by this. We all make mistakes and it’s important to acknowledge if they feel dismissed unintentionally.
Listen, Empathize, and Ask Open-Ended Questions:
Active listening is key when supporting someone with suicidal thoughts or a history of suicide attempts. Instead of bombarding them with advice, take the time to understand their perspective. Ask open-ended questions to encourage them to be vulnerable and share their thoughts and emotions. Remember, sometimes just being there to listen can make all the difference. We’re not looking for problem solving here, just an ear to feel heard and understood.
Encourage Professional Help:
While your support is invaluable, it’s important to recognize that you are not a trained therapist or counselor. Encourage your loved one to seek professional help, such as therapy or counseling. Offer to assist them in finding the right resources, or even accompany them to their first appointment. Remember, professionals are equipped with the necessary tools and expertise to guide them towards healing and recovery.
Self-care is crucial for mental well-being. Encourage your loved one to engage in activities they enjoy, such as hobbies, exercise, or spending time with loved ones. Join them for a yoga class, go for a walk together, or plan a movie night to help take their mind off the negativity. Remind them that self-care is not selfish but rather a vital part of their journey towards healing. We can’t pour from an empty cup, support them in filling their cup with activities they feel fulfilled by.
Create a Support Network:
No one should have to face their struggles alone. Encourage your loved one to build a support network by connecting with trusted friends, family members, or support groups. The more people they have in their corner, the stronger their safety net becomes. Offer to help them find local support groups or even introduce them to friends who have gone through similar experiences.
Stay Vigilant and Communicate:
Keep an eye out for any warning signs or changes in behavior. If you notice your loved one begin to withdraw, expressing hopelessness, or displaying sudden shifts in mood, don’t hesitate to reach out and check on them. Regular communication is essential, and it’s better to ask directly about their mental state than to assume everything is okay. Remember, your genuine concern can make a significant impact on their well-being.
The dreaded question of “Do you want to end your life?” is so scary to ask but incredibly important. When we notice warning signs, ask direct questions. Even the ones that we are afraid of the answer.
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to understanding mental health. Take the time to educate yourself about suicide prevention, warning signs, and available resources in your community. The more informed you are, the better equipped you’ll be to support your friend or family member. Read books, attend workshops, or explore reputable online sources that provide insights into mental health and suicide prevention. By expanding your knowledge, you can provide intelligent insights and share accurate information, both with your loved one and with others who may seek your guidance.
Be Mindful of Triggers:
Certain topics or situations can act as triggers for someone with suicidal thoughts or a history of suicide attempts. It’s essential to be aware of these triggers and avoid bringing them up in conversation unless your loved one is comfortable discussing them. Respect their boundaries and be mindful of the impact your words or actions might have on their emotional well-being. This is not to blame or say, “if you do it is your fault they feel this way”, it is solely to be aware and provide support by respecting boundaries and triggers to the best of your ability.
Celebrate Small Victories:
Recovery is a journey filled with ups and downs. Celebrate every small victory your friend or family member achieves along the way. Whether it’s attending a therapy session, reaching out for help, or simply getting out of bed in the morning, recognize and applaud their progress. Your encouragement and support can provide the motivation they need to keep moving forward.
Avoid the Hero Complex:
While it’s admirable to want to save someone from their pain, it’s important to remember that you can’t do it alone. You are not responsible for your loved one’s happiness or their journey towards healing. Encourage their independence and personal growth and avoid putting excessive pressure on yourself. It’s okay to lean on others for support, too.
Supporting someone with depression, suicidal thoughts, or a history of suicide attempts can be emotionally taxing. Take care of yourself so that you can be a source of strength for your loved one. Engage in activities that recharge and rejuvenate you. Seek support from your own friends, family, or even a therapist if needed. Remember, your well-being matters too.
In conclusion, supporting someone with suicidal thoughts or previous suicide attempts requires a delicate balance of empathy, understanding, and maybe some humor sometimes. By creating a safe space, listening actively, encouraging professional help, promoting self-care, and fostering a support network, you can make a positive difference in their life. Remember to educate yourself, be mindful of triggers, celebrate their victories, and practice self-care to maintain your own well-being. Together, with love and compassion we can help those in need find hope, healing, and a reason to smile again.