How to support someone who is suicidal

I’ve had one of those months where I’ve been fortunate enough to have some really in-depth conversations with people and I’ve learnt sooooo much. It really reinforces to me not to take everything on face-value and that no one really knows what goes on in someone’s life truly, especially without having conversations.

I enjoy talking to people so much, it’s where I gain most knowledge from, learning about them and their experiences…it’s my favourite!

One of those conversations concluded in someone asking me what to do to support someone who they think might be suicidal…followed with them saying “but not with antidepressants”.

I will forever be a believer to encourage people to do whatever makes them feel better (my only disclaimer – as long as it’s not harming themselves or someone else).

I mean we are all different and that really is great 🙂 that also means that different things will work for each of us. That could mean antidepressants, although I always encourage and suggest that they can work as a stabiliser in conjunction with therapy.

Antidepressants often have a negative reputation because the symptoms listed can include experiencing heightened suicidal and depressive feelings when first taken. This is obviously very alarming but I personally think with a lot of medication, it can often take a while to make you feel better…so if they do start taking them then it’s good to monitor the person’s mood.

I’ve written about some more areas that may help below:

  • Encourage them to talk and talk and talk about their feelings. 

A common misconception is that enabling someone to talk about their feelings of distress will make the situation worse. I promise you it won’t.

It is so important to encourage individuals in emotional distress to be ’emotionally-sick’ and allow them to share whatever they are experiencing that is making them feel that way.

  • Encourage and offer to help them seek support.

The GP is usually the first port of call but if they don’t feel up to going there then there other options such as counselling, cognitive-behavior therapy, group therapy and mediatation to name a few.  The amazing mental health charity MIND has put some really helpful services together here http://www.mind.org.uk

  • Try not to judge.

You of course might feel upset and frightened, but it’s really important not to blame the person for how they are feeling. This may have taken a lot of courage to speak to you, which is demonstrating great progress.

  • Remember it’s real. 

I know we may not understand the feelings someone is experiencing and it may seem irrational and alarming but please try to remember that this is so real for them, even if we don’t understand it fully ourselves.

Things to try and avoid

  • Telling the person they have such a good life and you don’t know why they feel the way they do.
  • Telling them it could be worse.
  • Telling them they are selfish (they really aren’t, they are emotionally struggling).

Hope this helps a little 🙂

x Rebecca x

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