Thoughts and desires about ending one’s own life can be frightening. We all go through life hoping we make it through whatever comes our way so when there’s no longer a will to live, it can feel like an existential crisis. Reports show that suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts are not as uncommon as one may think. In 2020, 12.1 million people seriously contemplated suicide, 3.2 million planned a suicide attempt and 1.2 million attempted suicide.

 

If you’ve recognized warning signs of suicide in yourself, please keep the following in mind:

  • Harboring suicidal thoughts does not make you a bad person. A part of you is suffering or struggling to cope normally. Many people who have suicidal thoughts are dealing with mental health illnesses that can be treated and managed.
  • It may not seem like it at the moment but there are solutions to whatever problem you feel is too big to solve even if the problem is within you. Things change so fast in life; seasons come and go. One day you won’t be as troubled as you feel right now.
  • You’ve conquered problems before and you can do it again. You couldn’t have come this far if you had no strength and resilience to carry you through life. There’s so much to live for – so many blessings you should count.

 

The first step to helping yourself get through this is seeking help. A lot of our friends and family members are not equipped to handle news about suicidal thoughts and attempts. If you suspect that they won’t take you seriously or give you a safe space, please call a professional immediately; a suicide crisis hotline, therapist or mental health professional, school counselor, family physician or community leader. If it’s a suicide attempt, check yourself into the emergency room or ask someone to take you there. Also, do the following:

  • Don’t isolate yourself. Call your family and friends to physically be with you. It helps to hear familiar voices and be around people who love you.
  • Clear your environment of anything that could make you self-harm like sharp knives, poison, guns and drugs. Have someone else administer the dosage if you’re on medication.
  • Find a positive distraction that takes your mind to a happy place. Call a loved one, go for a walk, watch your favorite shows, play with the kids, go on a spa date, etc.
  • Focus on getting through this current moment. Take each minute as it comes. Applaud yourself for getting through a day, a week, a month or a year.
  • Remind yourself constantly about all the things you should live for. Make a list to remember and look at it when you feel like there’s no will to live.
  • Create an emergency contact list for trusted people you can immediately call when you’re having suicidal thoughts. Tell them in advance that you’ve been having these thoughts so that they are available to pick up your calls.
  • Enroll in therapy to explore these thoughts without judgment and to be equipped with healthy coping skills. It’s especially important if you have a mental health condition like depression that makes you prone to suicidal thoughts. Remember that with the right treatment plan and medication (where necessary), you can recover from having suicidal thoughts.

Offering help and support

It may come as a shock when a loved one or colleague comes to you for help because they’re having suicidal thoughts. Responding with kindness and promptness can help them get through the tough situation they’re in. You could also intervene if you suspect that someone is having suicidal thoughts or whose behavior has suddenly changed. Don’t be afraid of upsetting them with talks about suicide because it won’t make them automatically consider it. Studies reveal that suicide ideation significantly reduces when people talk about it.

 

Here’s what you can do:

  • Immediately let them know that you are there for them. Ask them how they’d like you to help them at that moment; it could be listening to them, offering words of encouragement, rushing them to the emergency room, holding them, etc.
  • Don’t blame, criticize, judge or shame them for having suicidal thoughts. It could make them feel worse. Empathize with their situation and imagine how they are feeling at that moment.
  • Listen intently to what they’re saying and repeat it back to them to show you’re listening and for you understand them e.g. “I can see how sad this (their situation) is making you feel.” 
  • Ask them direct questions about suicide like “When did you start having suicidal thoughts?” “How were you planning to end your life? “How often do you have suicidal thoughts?” This helps you know how best you can help them and it will also remove the shame from the conversation.
  • Offer words of affirmation and encouragement like “I’m here for you” “You are so strong for coming this far” “Your pain is valid” “I’m here for you no matter what” and “You are not alone”. Remind them about the many reasons why they should live. If it’s a problem disturbing them, offer them different solutions to show them that there’s a way out.
  • Connect them to suicide help resources and mental health professionals like therapists who can help them work through their issues. You are welcome to book your consultation with us.
  • If it’s an emergency, call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Line (1-800-273-8255) or rush them to the nearest local emergency room, doctor or therapist or call 911 for immediate help.

 

“When the weight of the world is holding you down, remember the courage to keep fighting is what got you this far.” — Unknown