Do you know someone who feels hopeless? lost? profoundly sad?
Can you find compassion toward them or do you stay away when they begin that journey down the rabbit hole?
Today we lost another celebrity life to suicide. Anthony Bourdain’s life, Kate Spade’s life, along with countless others who’s lives we have known personally or are one of the many souls living among us, have lived many long and painful days and nights with a terrible secret. Because their journey on earth took them to international recognition perhaps they and many who came before (Robin Williams, Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemmingway), can help to open up a new and stronger concern and awareness for depression, addition, and mental illness. There is not enough dialogue, not enough honesty and not enough systems in place to catch these souls.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is Call 1-800-273-8255. Keep it somewhere easy to share. Ask questions!
What is this secret these people walking among us have? Why do they hold it so close to their chest that it goes unrecognized and undetected until it’s too late? It begins with a seed planted deep in their heart. It grows over time and then one day when they can’t take the suffocating and choking and darkness this overgrown, over cultivated lie has done to them, they search for relief. This can be poison to “kill it” like drugs and alcohol. It can be a pursuit of some goal that turns into an obsession which to others looks like fame and fortune and glory only to hid and try and run from it. This seed does not care who you are or where you live. It seeks the rich and the poor, young and old. It finds the crack and buries itself there to root and grow.
The seed also has a voice. The voice tells them they are not worthy, not good enough, undeserving and alone. How is it you can be in a room full of people yet feel completely alone? How is it you can have all the money in the world yet feel worthless? How is it you can achieve greatness yet feel not good enough? This is the voice they hear. This is the voice those of us who have never heard and some who have but have managed to not succumb fully to its power need to rise up against.
Our friends, our loved ones, our neighbors and those who we cross path with daily need our attention. An open heart of love from us shining into their darkness. We can reach out. We can ask the questions we may be too uncomfortable or afraid to ask and then we must wait and listen for them to answer. Our listening is so important! Our next steps may be alongside them to find help.
As family members, friends, and confidants, we have a responsibility to assist the people we care about. For people who have never seriously contemplated ending their own lives, it is challenging to understand the mind-set of an individual with suicidal thoughts. As the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), however, understanding where suicidal thoughts come from is necessary if we want to help individuals contemplating suicide.
Suicide Prevention Strategies You Can Use
If a family member or friend expresses suicidal thoughts, do not ignore them. They might desperately need your help. Here are a few tactful steps you can take to help a loved one at risk for suicide:
- Ask questions in a mild and sincere manner.
- Explain why you are asking questions.
- Express that your loved one is not alone. Tell them you are there for them and will continue to be there.
- If the individual is not comfortable speaking with you, suggest a qualified third party such as a therapist, spiritual leader, or doctor.
- Do not passively tell the person to just call a hotline; lead the person to helpful resources such as suicide hotlines and local mental health associations.
- Help the person schedule and keep appointments with a mental health professional, even if the individual no longer feels suicidal.