Suicide rates boom over the festive season and it seems to be a trigger for many people with mental illnesses like depression or personality disorders. It’s mainly because they feel alone, hopeless, strained, useless, purposeless or utterly miserable. It’s difficult for them to watch the rest of society enjoying the festivities and celebrations, particularly when they feel like running away and hiding until its all over. Worse still, they may feel like the light at the end of the tunnel is too far away for them to reach.
Being a loved one watching someone close to them cope with this can be exceptionally difficult. Some will threaten suicide, while others withdraw as the thought continually crosses their mind. People with mental illness like Borderline Personality Disorder threaten suicide on a regular basis. Some do end up achieving their goal and many others have made unsuccessful attempts.
The seriousness of suicide is that no one ever really knows when it’s going to happen. So when loved ones do threaten to end their lives or begin to slide into the ibis, those closest to them often feel compelled to intervene. The main problem is, most of us are unsure of what to do or how to help. The following list are recommendations from Lifeline about how to help loved ones in the prevention of suicide.
1. Ask them if they have been thinking about suicide. Be direct stating, “Are you thinking about suicide?” Chances are, if they have been having thoughts about ending their lives, they will want to discuss it with someone they can be honest with.
2. Listen to them. You know the old saying a problem shared is a problem halved? Simply taking the time and effort to listen to someone in need can make a big difference. Avoid getting distracted by others, technology and allow time for them to be heard and appreciated.
3. Check their safety. Being alone at a time when suicide is becoming a viable option, isn’t ideal. If you need to, offer to stay with them or have them come with you. If you can’t do it, organise someone who can.
4. Ask for a promise or get a written contract that they won’t commit suicide. If they have been feeling like they have let people down, they will want to stick to the agreement.
5. Don’t lecture them about how they should feel or what they should do. Many people equate suicide with selfishness and a first response is about this. When someone is considering suicide, they may feel that life would be better for others if they weren’t around. Telling them that they are being selfish is counterproductive.
6. No-one should support a suicidal individual on their own. It can be mentally, emotionally and physically draining. To look after yourself engage the help of others, which may include family, friends and professionals like GP’s, counselors, psychologists or psychiatrists.
Lastly, the most important thing you need to do to support them is looking after your needs first. They may want to lean on you for a prolonged period of time and this will be exhausting. They also need to learn skills to cope on their own. Therefore, it’s imperative you let others know the situation and seek help immediately.
If someone you know is in need of help, the following contacts are available.
- Emergency 000
- Lifeline crisis 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
- Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
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