Suicidal thoughts will surface in the person’s mind daily.
He or she feels like no one sees them, hears them, or feels them. Just because the person hasn’t acted on it, and he or she is visible daily doesn’t mean suicidal thinking isn’t present. Suicidal thinking is subtle. It can creep on you when least expected. If you have not experienced suicidal thoughts, you will only understand the one hurting and in pain, in part.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:
–suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US
–44,193 Americans die yearly from suicide
–25 people attempt suicide daily
–the U.S. pays $44 billion annually
–121 people on average die daily
–the median age for suicide is 13
Before I give the six ways to help someone, here’s my story. I am a former suicidal thinker who went through will smaller actionable steps. But, was saved through the right approach and help. Know this, even if you’re not a believer in God per se, this story will still help you. I say this because my mind couldn’t bear to hear the scriptures or how “good God is” during my most painful moments. So, I totally get it!
Suicidal thinking comes from built up emotions.
My childhood was good. I grew up with a silver spoon in my mouth. Yup. Even had an ice cream scooper. (Not too long ago, a former friend teased me and said, “not everyone grew up like you with an ice cream scooper)! Her comment, of course, had defenses and included many past issues that had nothing to do with me.
I now realize I was loved as a child, and not spoiled. But, the delusional thoughts of suicide constrained me to think otherwise. Suicide will produce ideas like no one cares, this is too much to deal with, who loves you–no one, I can’t take this anymore, life is too much to handle, perhaps they’ll like me more when I’m gone, or they’ll notice me more when I’m not here. Interestingly, the one in pain believes these internal thoughts and conversations more than the outward verbals from loved ones.
Suicidal thinking includes many self-talks and sometimes writing to express deep hurting feelings.
Yes. Thoughts of taking a life include talks. Dialogue occurs within. It’s a back and forth similar to the “devil” on one shoulder and an “angel” on the other, and you’re stuck in the middle.
The one in pain undergoes much turmoil, especially alone–in the dark. I used to sit in the dark and play sad songs. Songs with themes of loss of love were a safe place for solace and comfort. While home alone, I’d blast these songs, turn off all the lights, close the blinds and curtains, and sit in a corner and weep for hours.
I tried reaching out to various ones to talk. I wrote letters seeking for attention and love. No one had “time” for little me. So, for each attempt, I’d get a 16 0z glass fill it 1/4 orange juice and 3/4 vodka, gulp it down quickly and cut my wrists with a knife.
Suicidal thinking builds into other actions, but there’s usually a ray of hope that enables the person to reach out for help.
I had one close friend at the time. I remember how she earned my trust to talk about my internalizations. She moved at my pace per se with gentle nudges along the way. She accepted my means of conversation through letters. We wrote back and forth weekly.
In exchange for each letter, I wrote from places of pains, offenses, and displacement. She responded with words of affirmation, scriptures that ministered to each wound and most importantly God’s love. This friend was a perfect picture of patience and endurance. She did not give up on me and held my hand the entire way.
God will show up to you in the capacities you need Him.
I saw God through her and heard God speak through her writings. I accepted his words through her writings. God knew that was not the time for me to have only a Bible in view. God will meet you where you are. I called her on my last attempt to cut the area where my vein pulsated and showed a readiness to penetrate. There were no cell phones at this time. Remember, I am also under the influence.
When I called sobbing on the phone as the blood traveled down my hand, I was aware enough to hear her say, “Hold on! I am coming to you NOW!” She arrived 15 mins later–somehow the door unlocked–had to be an angel because she came to me while I sat crying and bleeding profusely. At that moment, she held me, prayed and anointed my wrists with frankincense and myrrh. The scent of the essential oil rushed through me, and I felt a tingling within my being for sobering.
Years later, there are moments when the thoughts try to surface. I now talk about and expose them. I also reflect on how God still wants me around for his will and purpose. Furthermore, it is important not to internalize offenses and or hurts. The only way not to is to communicate.
Suicidal thinkers eventually learn how to tell the trusted person how they feel. When they internalize, three things happen:
(1) the feelings can turn into ruptures that spill into their relationships, (2) the emotions can make them numb and cold towards people who genuinely love them, and (3) the feelings can initiate depression that leads to suicidal thoughts.
To the loved ones, partners, confidants or mentors, here are ten suggestions to use for the one with suicidal thoughts.
1. Be an open vessel for beautiful use
When helping a person with suicidal thinking, it requires you to put aside personal struggles, idiosyncrasies, and personal views. Why? This is because the one in pain may shut down more and back away should the individual feel like you have many problems in your life. Suicidal thinkers already feel as if they are burdens to others. So, being open and free from the negatives in your life is very helpful.
2. Be the friend that’s closer than a “brother”
Suicidal thinking people usually feel more comfortable around friends rather than family. Especially when they’re much younger, they may shy away from relatives and or cling to only one in particular. When this happens, be sure to just “be there.” Be present when needed. Should they call or text, answer within a decent amount of time. Show them that you are a friend who’s there to listen.
3. Do not force the Bible on the person
Forcing the “Bible” or “Jesus” dogmas is not always wise. Use this at your discretion. But, understand this. Many suicidal thinking individuals “blame” God. They also want to know “where is God” during painful moments. They’re not thinking as you are at the moment. Things are a bit foggy and unclear. Meet them where they are when it comes to spiritual or God-talk.
4. Listen to words not spoken
Talking is not always easy. Of course, trust and safety play huge rules in communicating and opening the heart. So, in case pay close attention to ALL behaviors. Are they unusually quiet? Withdrawn? Covering up with excessive laughter? Is there a deep sadness in the eyes? Move at his or her pace for opening up / communication
5. Be gentle and show love
You may be thinking, “but I do this already.” Is it love you want to show, or love they need? Do you know how to meet their needs? If not, be open to learning. It’s ok to ask them what can you do to help? They’ll open up eventually and share what’s needed. Part of making them feel safe and that you’re trustworthy is by gently affirming you’re by their side. Doing this shows you’re sensitive and aware of their needs.
6. Move at a balanced pace that doesn’t overload you
Don’t forget to still take care of yourself. Taking proper space to recharge is essential. Remember, sometimes what helps you get better, makes your relationships get better. Balance here means, “feeling” the circumstance in a way that speaks to how and when you should take space. This here is a case-by-case basis. And, don’t forget to call for professional help. Don’t feel trapped in not being able to tell someone. Strong support groups filled with affirmations also help in these situations.