Why don’t those thinking of suicide ask for help?

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A friend of mine reached out recently. She was feeling dark and depressed and she had had thoughts of suicide although when she called me she was not in imminent danger. She simply admitted she had had those thoughts 0ver the past few days.

We had a conversation about what had changed recently and we cited some possible ways to address the sudden change. Both of us suspected it might have something to do with a recent medicine increase that was making anxiety and depression worse, not better. Before I got off the phone, we decided together her next move was to call her psychiatrist and ask if the dose could be lowered.

While she checked in with her psychiatrist’s office, I got information to send her about support groups. Long story short, it was the medication change and when she went back to the previous dose, the feelings of suicide subsided and the extreme anxiety and depression also let up.

Once she felt more in balance, she called to say she was sorry she reached out. She was embarrassed she called me and asked for help.

All I felt the whole time was honored and thankful someone would trust me enough to confide in me. I made sure I told her that. I was also thrilled she did reach out. We tend to think we should suffer alone. I’m guilty of thinking that as well. It’s taken me a long time to feel comfortable sharing my hurt. I wince a lot when I share the posts about missing my son.

We also don’t have much support for suicide. We don’t have any federal or state programs for adults thinking of suicide and we have precious few for our youth. Often, people have to go make appointments, keep appointments, wrestle with insurance. Parents and those who suffer have to wade through a complex maze of a mental wellness system all while balancing family and job. Add to that, little to no collaboration between mental health professionals due to a number of factors.

So I’d say that not reaching out is due to the stigma and shame, our culture’s mythical perception that it’s weak and selfish to ask for help and our serious lack of resources. I’ve learned from comments left here and in my email conversations with those thinking of suicide that that moment is simply the product of  an irrational state of mind.

And at some point, we have all had an irrational moment. So it’s not insane or crazy but the result of an intense human emotion.

One of the contributing authors here, Paul Buskey who suffers bipolar disorder says, “It’s shocking and hard for most people to wrap their head around this when [suicide] happens out of the blue. Thing is, the part of keeping it inside is a direct result of the illness. It’s very difficult to open up to people when you’re suffering. You don’t want to be a burden or bring them down with you. You feel unworthy of anyone’s love and help. These are just a couple of the lies your illness feeds you so you don’t reach out to others.”

Aileen, part of the tribe here, added, “You feel guilty for having thoughts of suicide.”

Hearing from an individual who has contacted me in the suicidal state of mind is so different from when they are not in that frame of mind.

Last year a young man from Chicago wrote me he was feeling suicidal. He was 22. He was addicted to pornography and suffering mental illness (undiagnosed at the time). His emails were short and choppy.

We corresponded back and forth for a while and then I didn’t hear from him so I reached back out months later. The email I got in response was so together by comparison. He had by no means solved all of his issues but I had to point out to him that he had made tremendous progress because I could tell in his writing. He had a plan and he was working through it.

And it was damn complicated.

So imagine with me for a moment. Let’s say a husband (or wife) has left and filed for divorce. It’s a complete shock. You have three kids and you don’t know how you are going to do this. You feel ugly and awful and not worthy of love. Someone just threw you away which really messes with your self esteem and plunges you into a very dark place.

You think if you call someone and tell them, they’ll not want to be around you again. After all, you feel like trash anyway. You think they’ll judge you harshly, tell you you are weak, that you just want attention, or “pull yourself up by your boot straps.”

The God’s honest truth is that many people will say that out of ignorance and lack of education. That is the reality.

So those thinking of suicide have to think through their list of friends and who to trust with the information. But that’s awfully difficult to do in an irrational state of mind when you are feeling unworthy in the first place.

That’s why when I speak to teens I ask them to identify at least one trusted adult they could talk to if they needed it.

So even if you’ve never had a thought of suicide in your whole life, think of one person you’d trust to say almost anything to. File that in the back of your mind. Because you never know when you might need it.

What do those thinking of suicide say?

  • I can’t do this any more
  • I have no reason to live
  • If I died, no one would notice
  • The pain is unbearable
  • This world doesn’t need me any more
  • They’d be better off without me
  • I have no reason to live
  • I want to kill myself
  • I just want to die

Actual comments on this site

From people coming from google looking for ways to kill themselves (I don’t give out instructions on that. Just support.) They are looking up how to write a suicide note or methods of completing the act.

  • I’d rather be in hell, anywhere else than here
  • By this time tomorrow, I will no longer be here
  • I had my beautiful girl amber-rose stolen from me almost 4 months ago, she was only 16 years old, and was murdered, I can’t live with out her, I don’t want a life without her
  • I have never done anything like this before and i am petrified of life. My marriage has broken down after 20 years and I can’t see myself going on
  • After 11 years of marriage, my husband does not want to be with me. I have two kids and I am trying to stay alive for them, but I feel so bad that I do not think I can make it
  • I’m not angry with a particular person or about any incident. I’m just tired of struggling with suicidal thoughts and urges
  • I feel weak posting this but I need to tell someone that I’m not living longer. I’m good at pretending everything’s good but when everyone forgets you life falls apart a little
  • I also just want to die. I feel it every day. I’m only in 8’th grade. I have no friends and I get bullied every day. Recently the bully made people walk away from me. And only one person didn’t walk away. I’ve been feeling this way for the past 3 months. I don’t know how to tell people that I want to die. I need help

Mood

  • Moody and withdrawn
  • In some cases unusually happy (because they’ve decided how they are going to fix their issue)
  • Very depressed
  • Very angry
  • Humiliated and shamed (loss of a job or marriage)

Behavior

  • All of a sudden not participating in activities they used to enjoy. Charles was doing less theatre and one mom shared with me her son stopped playing piano (he loved playing his entire life of 18 years)
  • They may be preoccupied with conversation about death
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Calling all family members the same day or night
  • Drinking or drugging too much (addiction is a huge risk factor)
  • Feeling overwhelmed in recovery. Like it’s too much
  • Irritable
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Visiting people to say goodbye

 

What is the ‘wrong’ thing to say to someone thinking of suicide?

Author: Anne Moss Rogers

I am the owner of emotionally naked, a site that reached a quarter million people in its first 18 months. I am President of Beacon Tree Foundation, advocates for youth mental health as well as a writer and public speaker on the topics of suicide, addiction, mental illness, and grief. I lost my youngest son, Charles, 20, to suicide June 5, 2015. I was a marketing professional for years prior to losing my son and co-owned a digital marketing firm.

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