Taking time to reach out to someone in your community – A family member, friend, colleague or even a stranger – Could change the course of another’s life.
Saturday 10th September marks World Suicide Prevention Day.
This year’s theme is creating hope through action – reminding us that our actions, no matter how big or small, may provide hope to those who are struggling.
Preventing suicide is often possible and you are a key player in its prevention.
You can help give someone hope by showing that you care. All of us can play a role, no matter how small. We may never know what we do that makes a difference. We all can reach in and ask somebody. You do not need to tell them what to do or have solutions, but simply making the time and space to listen to someone about their experiences of distress or suicidal thoughts can help.
Small talk can save lives and create a sense of connection and hope in somebody who may be struggling.
Look out for those who are not coping
Warning signs of suicide include: hopelessness, rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge, acting reckless or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking, feeling trapped like there’s no way out, increased alcohol or drug use, withdrawing from friends, family & society, anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time and dramatic mood changes.
You don’t need to have all the answers
People are often reluctant to intervene, for many reasons, including a fear of not knowing what to say. It is important to remember, there is no specific formula. Individuals in distress are often not looking for specific advice.
Empathy, compassion, genuine concern, knowledge of resources and a desire to help are key to preventing a tragedy.
Individuals who have survived a suicide attempt have much to teach us about how the words and actions of others can be important, and those who have come through an episode of severe suicidal thinking often say that they were not looking for specific advice, but that compassion and empathy from others helped to turn things around for them and point them towards recovery.
Don’t be afraid to ask someone if they are suicidal
Another factor that prevents individuals from intervening is the worry of making the situation worse. This hesitance is understandable as suicide is a difficult issue to address, accompanied by a myth that suggests talking about it may instigate vulnerable individuals to contemplate the idea or trigger the act. Evidence suggests that this is not the case.
The offer of support and a listening ear are more likely to reduce distress, as opposed to exacerbating it.
The listening ear of someone with compassion, empathy and a lack of judgement can help restore hope. We can check in with them, ask them how they are doing and encourage them to tell their story. This small gesture goes a long way.
Take time to notice what is going on with you, your family, your friends and your colleagues. By stepping closer and reaching in we can be aware of those around us who need help.
Take time to reach out and start a conversation if you notice something is different. By stepping closer and reaching in we can encourage those with suicidal thoughts to reach out.
Take time to find out what help is available for both you and others. By stepping closer and reaching in we can support those in need by sitting in their pain.
Every action can connect someone to life and the help they want. To prevent suicide requires us to become a beacon of light to those in pain.