Have you been in this kind of situation before?
Even when you have the best intentions, you could find yourself fumbling for words when someone confides in you that they are struggling with their mental health.
Yes, it can be scary to talk to someone who has suicidal feelings – let alone a friend or a family member. But doing so can really make a difference, and literally save a life.
So, if a loved one tells you that they are thinking of ending their life, here are a few tips to help you handle those conversations.
Tip #1: Take them seriously
If somebody around you talks about wanting to die, take it very seriously.
Don’t call them a drama queen, don’t call it a joke. Don’t brush them off as simply wanting to gain sympathy or attention. They are reaching out for help. Taking action is always your best choice.
Tip #2: Do not judge
Here’s a myth: People who talk about suicide won’t actually do it.
But here’s an alarming truth: people who talk about suicide sometimes act on it. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that the majority of suicides have been preceded by warning signs, including verbal or behavioral signs. It is better to err on the side of caution instead of judging them.
Also, do not blame your loved ones for how they feel. Speaking up about it may be a huge step for them already.
Tip #3: Start a conversation
Have the initiative to ask open-ended questions that encourage them to talk. A simple “How are you feeling?” could mean a lot.
Your loved one is totally overwhelmed by their current situation and is unsure of how to express their feelings nor seek help. Whether they gave subtle hints or mentioned suicide directly, calmly ask what is happening and assure them that you are willing to listen and you care.
Tip #4: Don’t skirt around the topic of suicide
Contrary to popular belief that talking about suicide only encourages the deed, WHO says that it is okay to talk about it.
Talking about suicide can reduce their anxiety and helps your loved one feel understood. So, if you feel that your loved one might be suicidal, don’t be afraid to use the word “suicide”. Don’t hesitate to ask direct questions such as: “Are you having suicidal thoughts?” “What are the reasons why you don’t want to live anymore?”
Initiating the topic, being direct, and letting them know that they can open up to you can be a huge relief for them. More so, direct questions are more likely to bring about direct responses.
Tip #5: Seek help
Don’t try to handle the situation all by yourself. Encourage them to seek help from a professional – like a doctor, a mental health professional, or a counselor.
But if your loved one is in imminent danger, don’t leave them alone. Seek help and call emergency hotlines, such as Hopeline Philippines’ 24/7 hotlines: 0917-558-4673 (Globe), 0918-873-4673 (Smart), 02-88044673 (PLDT), 2919 (toll-free for Globe and TM).
Although the Filipinos are often portrayed as among the world’s happiest and most resilient people, the fear of the unknown and the uncertainty of the future amid pandemic might trigger negative feelings in anyone.
If your loved one talks about suicide, know that emotional support from people who matter to them can prevent suicide. Gently assure them that you got their back and that things can get better as you seek help.
Most importantly, pray that your loved one would encounter God’s love, healing, and light even in their darkest days.
We want to pray for you and your loved one!
Together, let’s lift your worries to God. You may call the CBN Asia Prayer Center at 8737-0700 anytime.