Everyone has their own struggle in life and as humans, you all experience a lot of emotions– some positive, some negative. When one gets overwhelmed by negative emotions, the individual can have suicidal thoughts. When one reaches that point, it is not that easy for people to admit it to themselves, and sharing it is even more difficult.
But, if someone is talking about having suicidal thoughts, do not dismiss it as suicide prevention is key. Rather, here are a few things you can do to help them.
1. Know about mental health issues
Like in any other case, prevention is better than cure even when it comes to sound mental health. If an individual can regularly better their mental health, they will not reach a point where they struggle with their emotions or have suicidal thoughts.
One of the few early things you can do towards suicide prevention is to be aware of possible mental health problems. And knowing the problems, you take better steps to manage them. Only if you are of sound health can you help others. The information helps you identify your own issues and those of others too on time. So, know about the different mental health issues.
Note: Do make sure that you do detach yourself from the information. Given that you will feel all the emotions at least at any given point in time, it is rather easy to associate all the indications and self-declare you or the other person is suffering from mental health issues being defined. So, see the information as your guide only, and leave the diagnosis to the professionals.
2. Look out for the symptoms
The one in need of your help might always not realise that they need help. However, if anyone in your surrounding is struggling with suicidal thoughts, they exhibit some commonly seen behaviours. Symptoms may not be limited to the ones mentioned below, but keep an eye on the people who might show the following symptoms if you want to contribute to suicide prevention:
- Feelings of despair, loneliness and being trapped
- Expressing pessimistic ideas during discussions or becoming pessimistic about the future
- Feelings of constant irritability and anxiety, sleep disturbances and mood swings
- Behaving passive-aggressively and more frequently
- Using drugs and alcohol or increasing their intake
- Avoiding social activities (feasts and gatherings), friends etc
- Openly talking about ways to die, thinking about or planning suicide
3. Be a friend
If you know someone having suicidal thoughts or exuding the symptoms, be a friend to them and be a key in suicide prevention. It is the best and most effective way to tackle the problem. You can help as a friend, parent or a part of the support group.
Even before one feels overwhelmed by their own emotions, it is suggested that they identify at least one person around them who will listen to them when they are having a hard time, emotionally. Identify one for yourself and try to be for others too.
The one struggling might identify themselves as an introvert or an extrovert, but regardless of that, try to be a company in which your loved ones feel comfortable being active and even engage in participatory community activities. Having a friend in a new environment makes it easier to adapt.
You can together explore activities like yoga, meditation and exercises to keep your physical and mental health in check. Try other mindfulness activities to have a sound mind.
4. Handle rejections
When you go to help people with suicidal thoughts, keep in mind that you might get rejected. If they are already going through a low point in life, they will not accept you. This may be the result of their biased perception or past experience. Do not take it personally and give them a chance to understand you as well.
When you are detached, you will be more conscious of their thoughts and emotions. You will give them time and space.
Just let them know that you are there for them if they want to talk.
5. Suggest outlets
This includes awareness regarding where the emotions are rooting from and how that makes you feel. If you see frequent mood swings in them, you can suggest them they track their emotions either by using journals or diaries or emotion trackers on their smartphones.
If there are some frequent mood swings, you can also suggest they seek regular counselling or psychotherapy sessions to keep their emotions in check, get to the root cause of their problem and solve it.
6. Talk about suicide freely
Talking freely about it does not mean you promote suicide or aid and abet it. What it means is that you create an environment where suicidal thoughts can be discussed freely without judgement.
Though it is not a common topic, try breaking the awkward silence on the matter by bringing up the topic casually among your near and dear ones. Express your own thoughts about suicide and suicide prevention and ask them what they think. If you feel resistance, try explaining that it is an important topic and you want to create a safe space to talk. This way, if any other day, your near ones are struggling, they will know that they can at least talk to you.
When an individual is sharing, avoid using words like “mad”, “lunatic”, “psycho” [or “pagal”], “emo”, “sissy”, etc which might further discourage them from sharing. Rather ask them how are they feeling after they share and ease them into sharing more.
7. Reach out to suicide prevention helplines
Talking about insecurity and suicidal thoughts may not be easy for those going through those emotions. But, sometimes talking to strangers helps and if those strangers are professionals, your near and dear ones will get the help they need. As one who cares about them, you have to encourage them to seek help or at least talk about their issues. Here are some suicide prevention helpline numbers you can recommend.
- Patan Hospital Helpline for Suicide Prevention: 9813476123
- TUTH Suicide Hotline: 9840021600
- Government Suicide Prevention Helpline: 1166
The Patan Hospital has been operating the 24-hour suicide prevention helpline since 2016 as a part of its suicide prevention strategy. Another suicide prevention helpline number 1166 is operated jointly by the Mental Hospital and the TPO, a private organisation. Anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts can talk anonymously and just talk about their issues and seek help.
Apart from this, suggest booking a session with psychosocial counsellors, psychologists or psychiatrists based on your needs. Here, understanding the difference between the nature of the specialists and seeking out the experts that match the needs will help them the best.
And, the key in all this is to let them do it at their own pace and in their comfort zone, and not yours. But, do follow up on them regularly.