When faced with a difficult life situation or depression, some of us think about "ending it all. What should you do if you realize that your loved one is having similar thoughts?
In raising the topic of suicide, authors of articles usually urge attention to the warning bells, reminding us that before committing suicide, people usually harm themselves in one way or another. However, this is far from always the case.
Some find themselves in the so-called "gray zone": they do not have a concrete plan to part with life, but it is too hard for them to continue fighting. And there are more such people than one can imagine. Psychologists call it passive suicidal thinking, and the number of those who are sometimes visited by such thoughts has more than doubled since 2018.
However, it is quite possible that many people simply do not admit to it, which means that there are even more such people. It is not necessary that the person will move from these thoughts to specific actions: with the support of family and friends, he or she can return to a normal, healthy and even happy life. The main thing is not to inadvertently aggravate the loved one's condition with your words. Here are some phrases to avoid.
1. "JUST IGNORE THESE THOUGHTS, AND SOONER OR LATER THEY WILL GO AWAY."
"No matter how painful and unpleasant the feelings your loved one is experiencing, he or she should experience them to the fullest, not run away from them," explains clinical psychologist Sherry Davis Molock. - Ignoring feelings does not help to cope with the problem. Your task - to recognize the right of the man for what he is experiencing, not judging him for it.
2. "YOU'RE NOT THINKING ABOUT SUICIDE, ARE YOU?"
The tone with which this phrase is uttered is particularly important: it's one thing if it sounds genuine concern, and quite another if it sounds disbelief and skepticism. "To the person, your words may sound like you're not ready for this kind of dialogue and asking for reassurance that he's not planning anything 'like that,'" Molock says. - Instead, try to show your loved one that he or she is precious to you, to support him or her."
3. "YOU'RE OVERREACTING."
This is another way to devalue the other person's feelings and experiences. "It's likely that talking to you and making this confession wasn't easy for the person, and if you just brush it off, he won't dare talk to anyone else about this topic, and besides, he will judge himself, which will only aggravate his condition," says psychiatrist Jessica Gold.
4. "SUICIDE IS A SIN."
"No matter how you feel about the idea of suicide, it's just your point of view, and it won't help your loved one in any way," reminds Gold. - Just be there for them - not judging or evaluating, supporting and showing your love as best you can."
5. "ARE YOU UP TO YOUR OLD TRICKS AGAIN?"
It does not matter, whether your loved one visits such thoughts for the first time, or it has happened before: each time it is different, but equally hard and painful. And such thoughts should always be taken seriously.
6. "BUT YOUR LIFE IS SOMETHING TO BE ENVIED!"
"Even if you are sure that your loved one has a 'perfect' life, you cannot know for sure how the situation feels from the inside, what he or she is going through and how he or she is feeling. Even the most famous, successful and talented among us commit suicide - remember at least Robin Williams," comments Gold. - Your reminder of how beautiful the life of a loved one will not "open his eyes" and do not help him enjoy it again, but only to make him feel even worse.
HOW TO SUPPORT SOMEONE WHO HAS STOPPED SEEING JOY IN LIFE
You can never, under any circumstances, ignore another person's suicidal thoughts, so if a loved one approaches you with such conversations, it's important to take them seriously. "But it's just as important to get a feel for the reason for such thoughts, to understand the risk of the person actually doing something to themselves," Gold says. Her advice is to:
1. Gently ask your loved one if he or she has a plan to do something about himself or herself and if he or she has already taken any steps to make it happen. It is also important to find out how often he visited such thoughts, and whether recently it is not getting worse.
2. Demonstrate calmness, love and support, and say directly that you will be there for him during this difficult time.
3. Listen to everything, even the most difficult thoughts, without judgment.
4. Try to delicately explain that your loved one could use the help of a professional. If he or she agrees, it is worth helping to find an appropriate specialist, make an appointment and, if necessary, even accompany him or her to the appointment (or at least give the phone number of a crisis center).
Of course, it is extremely difficult to talk about this subject, but understanding that he can share these thoughts with you and you will not judge him, can help your loved one in itself.