I recently was watching “Dr G: Medical Examiner” on TV. The show fascinates me in a morbid way. She discusses various cases that come into her medical examiner’s office in Florida.
Well, this particular episode had a strange case. A lady had been found lying on the floor of her bedroom by her son. She was badly burned, yet nothing in the house was burned. Suddenly the paramedics came & transported her to the hospital where she died 11 hours later. It turned out she committed suicide.
The lady wanted her fiancee to commit suicide with her. He didn’t take her seriously. They got into an argument & he left. She then grabbed a lighter, drove to a nearby field & lit herself on fire! Apparently she had a change of heart & drove herself home. She called 911 & after she hung up is when her son found her.
The story was heartbreaking to me. I’ve been suicidal in my life & let me tell you, it is a horrendous place to be. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone! It’s torture feeling as if no one cares & the world would be a better place without you.
Many people who are truly suicidal show very subtle or no clues that they are feeling this way. People are often shocked when they die because they say there weren’t any signs. Or, they say something like, “I didn’t think he really meant it when he said he was tired of living.”
Dear Reader, please pay attention to the people in your life. Many people are suicidal, especially if they have mental illness. Did you know there’s a 15-20% suicide rate among those with Bipolar Disorder? PTSD is even higher, estimated to be around 50%.
Even those without diagnosed mental illness can become suicidal. Everyone has a breaking point. Losing loved ones (through death, divorce, moving, etc) can take a huge toll on a person’s level of joy. Losing a pet can trigger suicidal thoughts in many people. Even losing a job can be devastating. Men in particular have a hard time with job loss. Medical problems can trigger depression. The fear of the unknown can be utterly terrifying, especially when it comes to one’s health. Or, sometimes having surgery can trigger depression due to the changes in one’s body.
The point is all kinds of changes, sometimes even positive ones, can trigger depression in a person. Knowing this, it’s a good idea to offer support to those you love if they have faced changes or difficulties. I’m not saying you have to fix their problems for them. I am saying that it is a good idea to be there for someone. A little support or show of your love for them can go a long way. Many suicidal people believe no one cares about them. Letting a person know you care may make all the difference.
If someone wants to talk about a problem, listen to them without offering advice unless they ask. Many times, people just need to vent. They may know how to fix the problem or there may be no solution to it, & they just need to talk about their feelings.
When talking about their problems, sometimes people’s emotions get overwhelming. They may burst into tears or get angry out of the blue. Don’t take that personally! It happens when people are extremely stressed & upset!
Avoid saying things that are going to upset the person further:
- “I understand exactly how you feel.” No, you don’t. You aren’t me.
- “I went through the same thing.. I did ____ & felt better.” Well, good for you, but that won’t work in my situation!
- “You’re being too negative.” Not everything in life is about puppies & rainbows. Negative stuff happens too & it needs to be dealt with!
- “You’re wallowing in the past.” Sometimes to move forward, you have to step back a bit. Arrows don’t shoot forward without going back a little!
- “Get over it” or “Don’t be sad/angry/hurt.” Do NOT tell someone how to feel! Ever!!
- “I don’t get why you’re upset. It’s no big deal.” Maybe not to you, but it is to me!
- “I’m sure she didn’t mean it that way/was just kidding.” So that means I shouldn’t feel bad she did/said something cruel?
Rather than saying something stupid, be honest. Tell the person you don’t know what to say to help other than you’re sorry she’s hurting or sorry that happened to her. Tell her you’re here for her & you love her.
If there is something you can do for the person, do it! Don’t just say, “I’m here for you” then bow out if asked for something. Mean it!
Offer to pray for &/or with the person. Praying with someone often can bring a great deal of peace.
Check in often. Call or text as often as you think the person is OK with. Don’t harass them every 15 minutes of course, but once a day should be good.
If your friend mentions suicide, please think carefully about what to say! Never tell the person she’s being selfish or stupid, or that their child/spouse/parent needs them. Shaming a suicidal person just makes them want to kill themselves even more. Ask why they feel that way, then listen to what they say. Cry with them, hug them, pray for them, tell them you love them.
If you are the suicidal one, Dear Reader, there are people who will listen. There are suicide hotlines. 1-800- SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) is a national one that will direct you to your local hotline.
Although I’m sure you don’t feel this way, there are people in your life who love you. Your family & friends, even your pets, love you more than you realize. And, God loves you so very much. When you hurt, He hurts. Turn to Him, & tell Him how you feel. He will understand!