Around 1 in 20 people admit to having thoughts about suicide. Most who think about it don’t know exactly what they want and, in the end, won’t end up killing themselves. Most do, however, want help to stay alive.
The New England Journal of Medicine studied people who had survived a suicide attempt and found that more than 90% of survivors would not end up killing themselves later in life. Many survivors who have attempted suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge have recalled their immediate regret at their decision to jump, even as they were falling.
Suicide carries a stigma in our society. It is something we try to avoid discussing and something we often dismiss as not serious, or unimportant. However, suicide is a real, serious, prevalent, and extremely important thing that is, often, preventable. It is something we must talk about openly and directly in order to prevent it from occurring.
People thinking about suicide almost always find ways to invite help from others. Unfortunately, they may invite us in the most uninviting ways. Often, someone will not directly tell you, “I am thinking about committing suicide,” but, usually, they will exhibit signs. Each person will send invitations in their own way and there is no “list” of invitations to look for. Some signs may include acting withdrawn, moody, careless, sad or anxious, or different than usual. They may seem hopeless, desperate, empty, alone, or isolated. If you notice someone acting differently, it’s important that you ask them directly “are you thinking about suicide?” If you are indirect, you may make the person feel disregarded, or that the situation is unserious, causing you to miss their invitation for help.
Invitations are often missed, dismissed, or avoided, especially when we are unable to talk directly about suicide. When asking for help, they may ask in unobvious, sometimes even unkind, ways, making us miss their invitation for help. They may also invite us and we may dismiss their invitation as “not serious” or view it as an “overreaction”. Finally, we may avoid their invitations altogether, because it makes us uncomfortable or uneasy.
We can’t all be experts on suicide. Most of us will never be. We can, however, ask direct questions, like “are you thinking about suicide?” in an attempt to understand what the person is really facing. Most of the time, when we ask, the answer will be “no”. However, it is still important that we ask the question because, otherwise, we may never know until it’s too late. If someone does answer yes, encourage them to let you seek help together. Ask, listen, and seek help. You could prevent a tragic death if you do.
It is not your job to save their life. It is your job to help them find someone who can. Call Third Level now for immediate assistance. Third Level is part of the National Suicide Prevention line. Trained, compassionate, and knowledgeable counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help anyone who may be struggling with life’s challenges. From finding help to pay a utility bill, to conquering thoughts of suicide, Third Level is there for you.