Suicide Prevention Tips: How To Rescue, Save A Suicidal Person
Earlier this week, I came across a post on Instagram where a girl committed suicide leaving behind a suicide note. In the note, she revealed how depressed she was and the sole reason behind her suicide. I actually raised my brows in utter disbelief when I read the part where she apportioned blame to the mother for never seeing any good in her; she then decided to end her life. Prior to the day she ended her life, it was reported that she updated her Whatsapp status with something that sounded “Depressing”. After reading the story, the first question that came to my mind was, “How come the friends she was close to never saw the warning signs? How come they didn’t know when she got to that point of killing herself?”
I equally read news where a girl committed suicide and the boyfriend didn’t know when she got to that point. He didn’t even know when his girlfriend started having suicidal thoughts. Each day we keep reading about how people took their lives and the usual question on everybody’s lip is “How come they couldn’t speak out?” In as much as most suicidal persons may not ask for help, in fact it is rare for a suicidal person to speak out because they are scared of being tagged “Attention seekers” but still that doesn’t mean that our help isn’t needed.
If you happen to have a friend or a family member who is very much depressed then you can imagine the nightmare you would have when you receive a call one day informing you that your loved one took his or her life. In that moment, in a blink of an eye, you life suddenly changes. In that moment, you will be filled with so much regret. It will even be worse if they tried reaching out to you, perhaps tried calling you, asking if you could come around but you were too busy to come around. Or you were too preoccupied to sense that something was definitely wrong with them.
Let’s say, you have a friend that haven’t called you for a very long time. Then one day, he or she calls you asking if you guys could hang out or if you could come over their place. You wave it off, telling them that you would come around some other day. Then few days later, you receive a phone call that the person had taken his or her life. Regret washes over you, leaves you wondering what you could have done – you wish there was a way to turn back the hands of the clock, you wish you had showed up when they needed you.
In your grieving process, the thoughts of what you would have done leave you with a guilt that chews around the edges of your daily life. You keep asking yourself, “Why didn’t I show up when I was needed?” “Why was I too busy to see the signs?” “If only I had done something sooner, maybe visit them or return their calls, they might still be alive”.
In such moment, no matter how much you chastise yourself, no matter how much you are flattened by grief, no matter how much you regret, no amount of contemplation will bring them back. In order to avoid reaching this stage – a stage of regret, it is better we focus on knowing how to prevent suicide
Whenever I read a suicide story, the only conclusion that comes to my mind is that most of these people that take their lives don’t do it because they want to die, they just want to stop hurting and which better way would they achieve that if not by killing themselves? And then, we pause to ask ourselves, how can I rescue and save a suicidal person?
- Recognize The Warning Signs
In considering how we can rescue and save suicidal persons, the first step we should all take is recognizing the warning signs and take them serious. A friend updates his or her status saying something like, “I am tired. I feel like disappearing from this world to somewhere more peaceful” “We would all die someday so why the struggle?” “Death is the only way out”, “The world would be a better place when I am out of the picture” we should be quick to notice these signs and take them serious. Don’t just shrug it off and think the person is seeking for attention; most times these statements are not empty threats or a cheap attempt at seeking for attention.
- Talk To Them
If you think a friend or a relative is considering suicide, don’t hesitate to talk to them and get them to share their feelings with you. That single act could go a long way to save a life. Though engulfed by feelings of self-loathing, isolation and hopelessness, show them that you care, talk to them about their feelings, get a doctor if you can or better still get a psychologist involved.
There is no doubt that it is extremely difficult for anyone to talk to a friend or a family member about their suicidal thoughts. When you are not sure whether a person is having suicidal thoughts, the best way to find out is to ask questions. Showing a suicidal person that you care; giving the person an opportunity to express him or herself will go a long way to relieve them of their loneliness and negative feelings.
If you are confused on how to start a conversation about suicide with anyone, the best way to start if by making statements like – “I just felt like checking up on you because you seem not to be yourself lately”, “You have so different lately and I am wondering if you are doing fine”.
If the person is bold enough to admit that he or she is not feeling okay, you can then go ahead and ask questions like – “When did you start feeling like this?” “Did anything happen that triggered this feeling?” “How can I be of help right now?”
After asking these questions, you can go ahead and tell them that they are not alone and you are here for them; you may not be able to understand exactly how they feel but you care about them and you genuinely want to help them; when they want to give up, they should tell themselves that they will hold off just one more day, hour, minute – whatever they can manage.
Below are some of the things you should do when talking to a suicidal person;
- Make the person know that you are concerned; that you are here for them and they are not alone.
- When a person who is suicidal decides to talk, listen more than you talk. Listen to them vent their anger and despair.
- Don’t judge them. Be calm, patient and sympathetic towards them.
- Assure them that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and that the suicidal feelings are temporal feelings that will soon fade away.
- Don’t ever argue with a suicidal person. If he or she admits that he wants to die, don’t say things like, “Why would you say such? You still have so much to live for”, “There are people struggling at the hospital to stay alive, you are blessed with the gift of life and you want to take your life”.
- Offer Your Help And Support
The best way to offer help and support to a suicidal person is by giving them an empathetic and listening ear. Let them know that they are not alone and that you deeply and genuinely care about them. You don’t have the responsibility of making them better. You can’t heal a suicidal person. You can only offer your support. They are the ones to decide and make a personal commitment to get better.
You can actually help a suicidal person by
- Getting a professional help
If you feel your personal help won’t be enough for them, go ahead and get a professional help. Encourage them to see a psychologist or a mental health professional.
2. You need to be very proactive
People considering suicides don’t ever believe that they can be helped so they can never put themselves out there to be helped. When you tell them things like, “Call me if you need anything”, they will never call. So you don’t need to wait for the person to call or return your calls, keep calling them, visit them as often as you can, take them out. The bottom line is that you should constantly keep in touch with them.
3. Remove any objects that they could use to hurt themselves
When you are with a suicidal person, try and remove any lethal means that they could use to hurt themselves. It could be knives, drugs, razor blades, rope – you should put enough distance between the person and the objects.
4. Follow up with their recovery
Okay, now that you have succeeded in bringing them out of that deep dark hole called depression, don’t just sing the victory song yet, you still have to stick around them. Check up on them as often as possible. Even though suicidal feeling come and go, you still need to be there for them.