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What to do if your loved one is suicidal?

17 Nov 2016

Having a loved one who is suicidal is one of the worst feelings in the world. You love them immensely and care for them but to find out that they have lost the willingness to live is shattering. However, you can prevent the mishap. To know about it beforehand is indeed a blessing in disguise. You must act wisely and save your precious one. You don’t have to step into the shoes of a mental health professional and try counselling or therapy by yourself but there are numerous significant ways you can help.

First and foremost, you should not avoid talking about it. Once you know that your friend or family member is suicidal, never go into a state where you don’t discuss it or say anything about it. Address the elephant in the room. Some people believe that by mentioning about it, you may implant the idea in the person’s head, which is not true. The idea is already on their mind and hence when you talk to them about it, it shows that you care.

There is also the misconception that someone who is talking about suicide won’t actually do it. On the contrary, anyone who attempts suicide has given some clue or warning.  So do not ignore suicide threats.

Suicidal thoughts or behavior must be taken very seriously and in no case, should it be dismissed as a joke or taken lightly. A very important thing is to convey empathy, concern and a willingness to help but at the same time, you should not think of this as funny or trivial. The pain that they are feeling is immense and lies underneath. So even though you feel that their condition is not that bad,  you have to take the person and their feelings seriously.

Listen to them. Listen carefully. Let them express themselves and ventilate their anger, pain or whatever it is. It is also important that while doing so, you must be calm and composed. Be sympathetic , non-judgmental, accepting and above all, patient. Moreover, do no act shocked or argue with them.  Offering solutions to their problems or blaming yourself will not help either. Be persistent and patient.

Offer support but do not try to heal her/him. Let them know that you are there for them. You must support them throughout until you get professional help. Encourage them to see a mental health professional and if the condition is critical, seek help immediately. You should not try to handle the situation all by yourself as it may further worsen it. Get trained professionals to do the job.

All the potential means of suicide like sharp objects, pills and firearms should be removed without any delay. Do not leave the person alone no matter what.

In cases when your loved one is suicidal, you ought to be extremely careful about your statements. Speak clearly and directly but do not say anything impulsively.

Do not compare their situation with others or call them coward for thinking of suicide. Do not tell them how things could be worse or that they have so much to live for. Never try to keep the suicidal intentions confidential as a secret is not worth someone’s life.

Last but not the least, you should continue supporting the person in the long run, even if the danger of suicide has passed. Keep checking on them and ensure that their recovery is on track. Follow up with them to see if they are doing okay.

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Tags: Suicidal