I know you want to tell someone but you are afraid to. It’s hard to know what to say or to whom. And it’s frightening to think of baring your deepest darkest hurt to another human being. You may even think you’ve been leaving clues that seem like flashing neon signs and no one is picking up on them which makes you think they don’t care. However, what you think is obvious just is not to others.
Will the person you tell freak out? Will they think of you as weak or selfish? Will they believe you? I won’t lie. They might.
That’s why it’s important to choose the right kind of person (section below on how to choose the right person). If they don’t understand right at first, it may be because they can’t believe your life would be so bad you’d want to end it. They don’t understand those feelings–how persistent, invasive, convincing and life-threatening they are. So that’s why you have to be very direct and bare your soul.
There is fear sharing your thoughts of suicide. But the alternative is that you might die if you don’t. And you have sunsets to see, people to fall in love with, and lives to save with your story. So keep reading.
1. Make the decision to tell
You looked this up. You are reading it now. You can do this. I know you have the courage because you have endured and fought these thoughts. You’ve managed to live through those episodes and you know how difficult that was.
Telling someone is how you can ask someone to help you save your own life.
2. Who should you tell?
Choose someone who is compassionate. Ask yourself:
- “Is the person you are thinking less likely to judge others?”
- “Are they a person who listens?”
- “Are they less likely to lecture or try to fix you?”
The person you choose could be a parent, aunt, uncle, minister, doctor, coach, therapist, partner, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, co-worker, human resources manager, or friend.
If you are a student, you could tell a teacher, school counselor, or visit a counselor at college.
You can also tell a stranger at a crisis line. You can practice telling me here. Make a list or mental note of 1-3 people you would tell. And then commit to telling that person you chose.
3. How should you tell?
It’s hard to know what to say. If you do tell someone, you worry people will think you are joking. That’s why it’s important to be very direct.
Don’t use phrases like, “I want to hurt myself.” You must be clear because the human you are talking to will not take it as seriously. And this is serious. It’s life or death.
Say something like:
“I have something very important to tell you. This is not a joke. Can you listen? I have been thinking of killing myself and I need help. When I have these thoughts I feel like I don’t have control. I don’t understand these feelings of suicide and they scare me.”
Add your own personal struggles. Be open and heartfelt.
You can tell someone in person.
You can tell someone in a message, on the phone, or write it in a note and hand it to that person while you are there.
My son Charles died by suicide and after his death, I realized he wanted to tell me he was thinking of killing himself in that last phone call. I will always regret that I missed the opportunity to ask.
4. How will the person you tell react?
The person you choose to tell may say something like, “You have so much to live for!” Or, “You shouldn’t feel that way.” It’s not the right thing but be patient with them. It’s a reactionary statement.
Right at first the person you tell will probably feel scared because this is so serious. And it is. But once they absorb the news, most people feel honored that someone trusted them with such personal information. And they feel thankful they could help you.
You can call a local crisis line together. You can go tell someone together. You can ask someone to tell another human on your behalf. However, you do it, don’t give up.
If you are really feeling like dying by suicide right now, do not wait. Call or tell someone now.
If you leave us, then you take with you the gifts that we have not even realized you have.
You looked this up which is the first step. I congratulate you on that. Make a comment here if you want to practice or have a question. Your task today is to tell someone so you can get the help you deserve.
USA Crisis Text 741-741
US Crisis line for LGBTQ Youth 1-866-488-7386
US Crisis Text for LGBTQ Youth 678-678
United Kingdom 116 123
Australia 13 11 14
International suicide hotlines