Suicide is one of the hardest things to deal with. Not just for the person considering suicide, but for the People surrounding that Individual Often, people who observe suicidal behaviour from someone they love become very concerned and even disturbed at what they’re seeing. But it’s very important not to let your shock overwhelm you.
Instead of focusing on the sadness of the situation, there are many things you could do to help these suicidal Individuals
1. Don’t ask too many questions
In 2010 a study was done on the rising suicide rates in Japan. An area that has a massive problem with people taking their own lives.
It found that asking too many questions can sometimes cause a negative reaction in suicidal people. Could this just be due to Japanese culture or is this an indicator of a more widespread threat when it comes to suicide?
It would make sense for this to apply to all people because the feeling of being interrogated with many, questions is never fun. Because of the shock of finding out someone is suicidal it can be tempting to bombard them with constant questions. But a more effective technique is to start slow.
Just letting the person know you’re there to help them is a good enough start.
2. Don’t give them false hope
Another very interesting study was done in India- another Country that is suffering from increased suicide rates.
They found that giving the person false hope can be a disastrous decision. Although you might feel that making unreasonable promises to the person might convince them not to commit suicide. It actually causes the opposite effect.
They immediately see through this fake promise and become even more disillusioned with the world they live in. Although it might be tempting to say things like “Everything is going to be okay” take a second to think about what you’re saying.
Is everything really going to be okay? As the study suggests, A better option might be to employ a more realistic approach.
3. Don’t try to relate
The same study as mentioned before, also found that trying to relate to the suicidal person can be a bad decision. You have to understand that in the minds of Suicidal People, no one understands what they’re going through. Even if you have contemplated suicide in the past and feel like you’ve gone through the exact same thing, don’t try to relate your own experiences to what they’re going through.
Suicidal people will most likely reject this advice because they believe it does not apply to them. Instead, focus on trying to listen to them, and trying to understand their own unique circumstances as best you can.
4. Use their own belief system to convince them.
The same study as previously mentioned provides one more great piece of advice.
Researchers revealed that you can help suicidal people choose life by learning about their personal beliefs and using them to convince the person not to commit suicide. If they believe in a specific religion, use teachings from that religion to convince them about the value of life.
If they believe in nothing at all, you can consider learning about absurdism. In philosophy, “the Absurd” refers to the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life, and the human inability to find these with any certainty. The absurdist philosopher Albert Camus stated that individuals should embrace the absurd condition of human existence.
You can learn more about this from this video.
5. Encourage them to see a professional
This is one of the best things to do if not the ultimate best thing to do to help. Encourage them to see a mental health professional. That’s not to say you should refuse to help them telling them to get help and walk away.
That would not go down well.
What you can do – is let them know that you’re there for them. Listen carefully and then encourage them to get help. You have to remember that you’re not a professional, you’re not trained in this and you don’t have the resources to help.
Unless of course, you are a trained mental health professional.
6. Take them seriously.
There has been a huge tendency to dismiss the validity of suicidal tendencies throughout the years
People often say things like: “They’re just doing it for attention.” or “You’ll never actually go through with it.”
This is perhaps the worse outlook you could take when it comes to suicidal people. You have to take them seriously if no one pays attention to them or displays any concern, this might actually push them further towards suicide.
It makes them feel alone. Studies have shown that the vast majority of people who have committed suicides, displayed warning signs before taking their own lives. In addition, a study in Finland found that 10% of people who committed suicide saw a health Professional within 24 hours of taking their own lives.
7. Try not to seem fake
Something that really causes a negative effect when it comes to dealing with people contemplating suicide – is when you appear to be fake.
As previously mentioned, it’s important you take these people seriously, but this doesn’t mean turning yourself into something you’re not.
Don’t act like a different person all of a sudden just because you found out that someone close to you is contemplating suicide. They will see you right through your fake demeanour. This might cause a negative effect, creating a sense of increased disillusion in their view of the world around them.
8. Encouraging participation in culture
Recently Canada, Finland and other countries situated around the Arctic Belt embarked on an ongoing study to tackle the growing problem with suicide among the people living in the far North.
The vast majority of these people are part of aboriginal groups, such as the Inuit in Canada and the Saami in Finland – societies with growing suicide epidemics.
Although this strategy was specifically tailored towards Inuit People, it can be applied to people all over the World.
When they encourage these people to participate in their own culture, such as singing traditional songs, creating traditional arts and crafts and generally doing things typical to their traditional culture, to reduce the risk of suicide.
Perhaps this helps because the suicidal people feel like they belong to a larger collective, thus their sense of loneliness is lessened. They suddenly feel like they belong to part of a Community and a culture that has spanned multiple generations behind them.
9. Address unresolved grief
One of the biggest reasons people contemplate suicide is because they’re experiencing unresolved grief. Indeed it’s one of the biggest warning signs of People who might commit suicide in the future. These people might say that they’re about to see dead loved ones again, or that they wish they could see dead family members again.
When people can’t properly work out the grieving process, they turn to drastic measures, including suicide. They feel it’s the only way out, and the only way forward.
If you think this might be the root cause of their suicidal thoughts, bring it up.
If you encourage them to address it, they might be able to finally come to terms with it and work on moving on.
10. Stop them from taking certain prescription drugs
There is also a huge problem with suicides in the military specifically the US Army. The rates are so alarming that multiple studies have tried to look into this problem and figure out how to tackle it.
In 2012 one of them found that one factor contributing to suicidal behaviour was a reliance on certain prescription drugs – specifically opioids. You see it again and again TV Commercials that sell these drugs are flipping the disclaimer at the end, which says: “This might result in suicidal thoughts”.
While the study was done through the military, it applies to all people if you know someone who is suicidal and they take certain prescription drugs (most notably opioids), it might be a good idea to get them to stop or at least bring up the fact that their medication might be the reason they’re suicidal.
Mental health is also something that affects people negatively and many people suffering from mental health disorders such as depression may find themselves feeling suicidal. We have an article on ways you can cope and even recover from your depression.
If you are in crisis or having suicidal thoughts, please find your country from this list of worldwide suicide hotlines and seek help.