Talking about suicide is not easy, no matter which end of the table you’re sitting on.
I’ve been on both over the past couple of years. Even with the screen between us, it’s hard for me to admit that I’ve attempted suicide. As I’m typing this out right now, I wonder what my mother would think or what my friends would say. Would they think I’m lying? Would they wave my attempts away? Would they tell me I’m crazy?
Most mental health professionals would tell you to look away right about now, but stay with me, I promise I have a point somewhere.
My attempts at suicide have – as disgustingly clichéd as is – made me smarter. It is an obsession with a complex issue; half my nights are spent on Reddit, the other halves are spent knocked out on (prescribed) sleeping pills.
I’ve gotten so comfortable and familiar with suicide that it’s strange when others mention they feel awkward at the thought of National Suicide Prevention Month.
Which makes talking about suicide all the more important.
A common myth surrounding conversations on suicide is that discussing suicide actually encourages people to be more suicidal. That has been proven false by scientific research   , and it’s been concluded that talking about suicide positively benefits those at risk.
Mental illnesses are most often described invisible; a combination of different symptom manifestations and reluctance makes mental illness so difficult to identify. Suicide is the same way.
By encouraging honest, non-judgemental conversations, we’re one step closer to destigmatising suicide and facilitating greater awareness of our surroundings.
As a community, let’s get more open-minded about conversations on suicide. The blame and shame that comes with suicide is not something we should sweep under the rug; it shouldn’t be ignored, not when there’s a chance we could help someone out there.
Do one thing this World Suicide Prevention Day – communicate. If you know someone who’s struggling, reach out to them. If you’re struggling, open up to a trusted loved one or a mental health professional.
Dr. Doreen Marshall from the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention offers some helpful tips on having authentic conversations:
- When someone is struggling, just listen to them.
- Let others share at their own speed.
- Don’t pass judgment or offer advice; just be present.
- Understand that we all experience mental health differently, and that’s okay..
- Following the conversation, check back in and offer to connect them to professional help if they need it.
At the end of the day, we’re in this together. Genuine connections and a supportive community matter – I can tell you from firsthand experience that I wouldn’t be here without the relentless support I’d received from my family and friends, a privilege I’m grateful for.
I don’t think I appreciated it very much when my loved ones intervened with my plans, but I guess* now I know it was for the best. And because I’ve been extended that kindness and support, I want to extend it to you too.
So please, check up on those around you – mental health looks different on everyone, but support is essential and I can’t stress that enough. No matter if it’s a loved one, a neighbour, a therapist, or a community, it’s important to have a reliable network of people who are there when life gets hard.
I really do!
Thoughts? Leave a comment and let me know. Or if you want to share your story, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and you’ll hear from me soon.
See you around.
- Understanding suicide by Verywellmind
- Chatsafe by orygen
- Helping someone in a crisis by SOS Singapore
- How to help someone who feels suicidal by SAVE.org
- Have the conversation by Beyond Blue
- Quick guide on language and suicide
*I'm also a work in progress, we all are.