9 THINGS YOU CAN DO FOR SOMEONE YOU LOVE IF THEY’RE HAVING SUICIDAL THOUGHTS

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It can be really hard when someone you love is feeling suicidal; it can come as a bit of a shock and it can be hard to know what to do or say. It can be difficult to know how to help.

9 Things You Can Do When Someone You Love Is Having Suicidal Thoughts

1. GIVE THEM SPACE TO TALK (BUT DON’T FORCE IT)

When we’re suicidal, our thought processes might slow down. There are times when we can’t put our thoughts and feelings into words. Even if our brains are in overdrive, and we have lots of different thoughts flying about, it can still be difficult to pull them together into anything that makes enough sense to speak out loud.

We often need a lot of time and space to be able to express ourselves. Writing it down, texting it, or using pictures can be easier than talking about it.

It can be tempting to offer advice, but advice isn’t always what we need. Sometimes we just need to be listened to.

Alternatively, we might not want to talk at all. If someone we love is pressurising us to speak it can be very stressful. Sometimes it can help to just have someone alongside us, with no expectations that we will do or say anything. If we’re someone who likes hugs, then a hug can say more than 1,000 words.

2. ACCESS PROFESSIONAL HELP

Coping with suicidal thoughts can be very difficult and isolating. Unfortunately, love alone can’t cure depression or make suicidal thoughts go away. Sometimes, no matter how much you love someone, their suicidal thoughts persist and you need to reach out for some professional support.

This could be in the form of a GP, Mental Health Team, or a helpline such as Samaritans or Papyrus. Or Lifeline in Australia

3. CHECK IN REGULARLY

Sometimes, when we’re feeling low, it can be hard to reach out to people and tell them how rubbish we feel. It’s often hard to remember that people love us, and it can feel like we’re imposing on them or being a nuisance.

Checking in with us regularly can help us to tell you if we’re feeling rubbish without us needing to contact you first.

We don’t always know what we need, but asking us if there is anything we need can give us the opportunity to say if there is anything we can think of.

Often, it’s hard to put words to how we feel, so sometimes it can be helpful to have other ways to communicate. For example, we could offer marks out of 10 for how we feel. Or we might almost have a ‘code’ for certain things, for example, rather than saying ‘I feel like hurting myself’, we might just need to say ‘I need distractions tonight’, or something like that. Some people might find this too complicated and they’d rather be blunt, but others might find it helpful – everyone is different.

4. ENCOURAGE A WIDER SUPPORT NETWORK

Having the support of someone we love is amazing. It can be life changing. The problem is, that if we’re relying on one person, then not only does that put a lot of pressure on that person, but it also means that if that person is ever unavailable, or any problems occur in our relationship with them, then we can feel completely isolated and stranded.

Encouraging us to stay in touch with other friends and family (as much as we’re able to), can help to widen our support network and prevent these sorts of problems.

5. THE LITTLE THINGS CAN BE BIG THINGS

Things that seem like little things, can actually be really big things when it comes to getting through the day.

If you see/hear/smell something that reminds you of us when you’re out and about, let us know. It reminds us that you love us, and can help to open up a conversation with us.

You might see a social media post that makes you think of us. Tagging us in it shows us that you’re thinking about us and you care.

There are always different articles popping up in newspapers and on social media. There might be one that catches your eye – sharing it with us can give us something else to focus on.

Phones can be useful when we feel low because they tend to take less energy than finding a laptop or leaving the house. Giving us some ideas of apps we can look at can be helpful.

There are lots of free little ways that you can show us you love us and care about us and those reminders are really important and offer a differing perspective to the one we might hold about ourselves.

6. DISTRACTIONS

When our heads are repetitive and distressing, having distractions can be a welcome relief.

It can be hard to think of distractions when we’re stuck in the middle of feeling rubbish, so helping us with some ideas of things we can do could be really valuable.

Some of us like watching things – so bringing round a pile of DVDs can give us some new things to look at. You might know of some hobbies we used to have that we could have another go at. There might be local walks you know about that you could go on with us. As a loved one, you know us well, so you know the sorts of things that we like.

7. LEARN ABOUT THE SIGNS

Having suicidal thoughts, and having suicidal intent are not the same thing. A person can have suicidal thoughts, but not intend to complete suicide. There are sometimes signs that our suicidal thoughts could have reached the stage where we have suicidal intent, but these signs can be subtle and well-hidden.  Learning about these signs can help you to look out for your loved one. It’s important to remember, though, that if something happens to your loved one, and you missed a sign, that it is not your fault – when we have an intention to act on our suicidal thoughts, we might deliberately hide it from our loved ones.

8. BE HONEST

In order to keep our trust, it’s really, important that you’re honest with us.

Suicidal thoughts can run on a spectrum – from background thoughts to active suicidal intent. Be honest with us when you’re particularly worried. This can open up a conversation and can either alleviate your worries a little bit or can allow us to take steps to get some more help.

There might be times when you are concerned for our safety, and you think that you need to ask for some more help, either from professionals or from other friends and family. If at all possible it’s always good to be honest with us about this and to tell us before you contact someone else about us. We might not like the fact that you feel like you need to speak to someone else about us, but we will normally understand. By telling us before you tell someone else, it will stop us from hearing it from someone else first, which could cause us to feel as though our trust has been betrayed.

9. MAKE SURE YOU’RE OKAY

If you’re not okay, you can’t effectively help others. One of the most important when helping us is to help yourself. Make sure that you reach out for the help that you need and you deserve if you begin to struggle. If you reach a point where you’re unable to support us, then it’s important that you look after yourself, take a step back, and utilise a wider support network of friends, family, and professionals.

Please help us to help others and share this post, you never know who might need it.

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