Updated: Oct 12, 2018
Disclaimer: If you are feeling suicidal, please contact 1-800-273-8255 (suicide hotline), or text 741741. If you imminently need assistance, call 911. There is hope, there is help. Struggling with this on a “passive” level? Call Great Oaks Therapy Center at 186-200-7266 and we can get you set up for an appointment to hash it out on a personal level.
I can’t believe this is my second year, my second September having the honor of writing on this topic. Also, I can’t believe how difficult it is to speak out about suicide prevention. We do it this week, sure, but for some reason, the hubbub dies down come October.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s been a much more audible and visible topic over that past year and I am so proud of my fellow friends and colleges for not letting the advocacy completely die down. I guess I just want more. As a person who has been directly affected by suicidal ideation and have been affected by suicide, I cannot be silent.
Today I want to offer and dispel some myths about folks who are worried about others, who don’t know what to say or do. Maybe, in fact you are worried about yourself; maybe that it why you are reading this article. Often times I hear “I can’t ask them if they are suicidal, I don’t want them to actually do it!” when it fact, studies show that if we ask, sometimes the risk actually decreases.
So without further ado:
Myths about suicide prevention
One. Asking your loved ones about it will cause them to attempt suicide
No! Studies show that asking your loved one directly “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” can actually decrease suicide attempts. One, because you can then direct them to the help they need, or two, they are able to get off their chests what has been oppressing them. Now, it is always best to get the person you love to a mental health professional right away (get them assessed at your local mental health center, or you can even walk into the ER and tell them you feel that you cannot be safe with yourself. You can even call a wellness check for someone you love, if they refuse to get the help they need. Someone can come out to their home to make sure they are ok.)
Two. It happens to others, but not to you.
Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in teenagers, and10th leading cause of death in adults. This is a staggering statistic and chances are, someone you love it at the very least experiencing suicidal ideation (thoughts about suicide). This is a conversation that should be talking about with teenagers and adults alike. Starting with “have you ever had thoughts about dying, or hurting yourself?” Then react calmly, and remain open, if they say “yes.” Instead, get curious. “What has lead you to feel this way?” “Do you have any ideas of what would help?” It is then imperative, if the answer is “yes” to seek out professional help for yourself or that loved one. Reach out! If you need help finding local (Kansas City resources) you can email email@example.com and we can provide you with a list!
Three. There’s nothing I can do to help.
Wrong! See above! First line of defense: have a conversation with them. Two, seek local help (an assessment or a therapy appointment). The professionals are literally here to help- don’t do this alone.
Four. I have to help my loved one on my own.
Please, in fact, never attempt to help someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts on your own. Not even if you are the one experiencing suicidal thoughts. This is not weakness, this is pain, shame, hopelessness and hurt. Mental health is a beast that tells you, you are alone in this- isolation is the worst thing you could do for this type of situation. Reach out. We will reach back.
Professionals don’t even help on their own, they seek supervision, professional guidance and more to support a person who is experiencing suicidal thoughts. Suicide is a heavy, heavy topic, not only for the person experiencing the thoughts- loved ones carry an equally heavy (albeit different) burden. Do not try to do this alone.
Five. The person who is thinking about suicide can just feel better with a little sunshine and exercise.
Not always. In fact, most of the time they need much more. Most of the time, you don’t become suicidal overnight, and it takes others folks to help with that. Granted, vitamin D and exercise are two really great ways to care for yourself, but it is not a cure all for suicidal ideation. In fact, that could seek to be more isolating, if the prescription for misery is only these two things. Often times, suicide looks appealing because one feels there are no more options, no one left to help. Often times the best antidote (besides therapy and possible medication) is connection. We need to be seen Heard. Loved. Acknowledged.
In short- do not suffer in silence, do not be silent at all- please reach out, you and your loved ones deserve help. Not a quiet, miserable existence. You are worth help. You are enough. You deserve something better than this.
Trust me, it can get better.
Love, a therapist who dealt with this for way too long before seeking help.
Lindsay Ryan is a clinician at Great Oaks Therapy. Contact Lindsay at (913)954-8708 or firstname.lastname@example.org