Suicide can be a very devastating part of life. My hometown of Moulamein has lost a number of people to suicide. Over my lifetime I have met and spoken with several people who have felt the urge to escape their pain with something as devasting as committing suicide. I have friends who have had suicidal thoughts since they were a young child, and they consider it on an almost daily basis. I have lost friends to this. Nearly every client I have had in my coaching practise has mentioned wanting to take their life at some point. Whether it be something they have tried in the past, or I have had to stay on the call with them longer because they were wanting to do it that day. And I can only imagine, that with the state of the world right now and how everything feels and looks sometimes, people have thought to themselves that maybe it would just be easier to leave this world. My point is this pattern of thinking is incredibly common. We need to be looking out for one another and taking care of each other. It is important to be able to recognise the signs of someone feeling suicidal or depressed and how you might be able to help them.
First of all, it is about understanding where they are coming from. I never really understood the notion of people thinking suicide is selfish, as I always understood that the person is in so much pain that they cannot see a way out. It is about understanding that, that their pain is so real to them in that moment that it feels like it is going to feel that way for the rest of their life and it is unbearable. Imagine the worst physical pain you have ever experienced and how much you wanted it to stop, that is the mental pain they are dealing with. They do not think about the loss they will be creating, they think about how much better off people will be without them. That they will no longer be a burden to the people that they love Their life feels so empty and difficult to them and that nothing will pull them out of the black hole they are experiencing. This is not something that they can just necessarily snap out of, it is like a plague in their mind.
If you suspect someone is in a dark place, if you can, I encourage you to ask them just straight out, if they are going to hurt themselves or do something permanent. A lot of people dance around asking people this because they worry it will put the idea in their head. If anything, it is calling the persons pain to the surface and shines the light that someone will care if they go ahead with it. Absolutely do not try and call their bluff if you for some reason think they are just being dramatic. I have heard enough stories of people using that as a strategy and the person then went ahead and made the attempt because it only made them feel even more insignificant.
I understand that some people cannot wrap their heads around mental health issues like depression or suicidal thoughts. Some people are just wired very differently, and their minds simply would not go there. But that does not take away from the fact that other people's minds can very easily become a very dark place. You do not need to understand but you do need to have a level of compassion for someone else’s pain.
Now, if you do have a friend who you feel isn’t in a great place and you are worried about them, there are a few things you can do. First, go over to their place, spend some time with them. D not overwhelm them and spend hours with them. Their mental energy is low enough without having to pretend to be okay for someone for many hours. Go for an hour, tell them that is all you are going for. Just to sit with them if that is all they are willing to do.
If you want to take them some comfort food, take them something hot and nutritious. Depressed people tend not to have the energy to take care of themselves and cook for themselves. They also often do not think they are worthy of feeding their body good food. A fresh nutritious meal will give them something sustainable. If you think they would benefit from some supplements, buy them the supplement, take it to them. Make taking care of themselves as easy as possible.
Keep the things you do with them simple, get them out in the sun for 10 minutes. Sit and talk with them. If you have a book you think they would really benefit from reading. Do not expect them to read the entire book, they do not have the mental energy to do that. Go through the book and mark and highlight the sections you think are the key messages. If there is a YouTube video you think will make them feel better, send it to them with a description of what they can expect from it. But do not get mad at them if they do not take on your requests. In their mind, they are doing the best they can to take care of themselves and some things they just will not have the capacity to take on all of your recommendations.
Taking care of someone who is not doing great is about giving without the need to receive back. They cannot give in those moments as much as you might like them to. Where they are, they feel that nobody will really understand them. Find them some people who talk about having been suicidal or depressed and have come out of it and are doing really well now. To these people, the world is crushing in on them. Everything has become too much and they just want the world to give them a break. They might start withdrawing from everything in their life. Sometimes people may even get better before they get worse because if they have decided to follow through with it, they are starting to see an end to their pain and it lightens things up for a bit. Let them know you are there to listen. The burden of caring for their pain might be because they feel that nobody has time for them.