What can you do?
If you notice that a person you know is suffering, if you suspect that he/she is losing the will to live, offer to talk about it. They need to know they are not alone.
Put yourself in the position of that person, and this will help you to understand better what he/she is going through, and will help you to react in a natural way.
Be a careful and impartial listener. Do not criticize, do not patronize, do not show pity, and do not you tell him/her what is the best to do. That might close up the person and put him/her away from further communication.
It is important to show that a person is accepted as he/she really is.
Show that you sympathize with him/her, be warm and patient. Do not hesitate to ask a question about suicide. You can’t "plant the idea of suicide” in someone’s head by doing that. In fact, if the person really thinks about suicide, he/she will feel relieved to be able to share with someone this heavy burden.
If a person says he/she is thinking about suicide, take it seriously. Do not try to cheer up the person, do not comfort him/her by underestimating the problem ( it will go away," "it is not as bad as it looks"). Do not focus on solving problems (giving advice, examples of others in similar situations, etc.) or give lectures about the value of life and the right to suicide.
Be patient; tolerate the silence. For people who are struggling with suicidal feelings, sometimes it is very difficult to talk about feelings, and they should be given time to explain how they feel.
If you suspect (and if you find) that a person is suicidal, it is very important to determine if he/she has a plan how to do it and whether he/she has the means to carry out this plan, because it indicates the level of suicidal risk. Do not leave him/her alone. Remove all objects that could hurt him/her.
Help him/her understand that the problems can be solved and that there are alternatives to suicide. Help him/her realize that the unbearable feeling won’t last forever, and that suicide doesn’t have to be the solution.
Unfortunately, most people feel very uncomfortable talking about suicide. In our culture, it is taboo and society often ignores the existence of the problem. However, it is the fact that nearly one million people on Earth commit suicide every year. So, do not hesitate to offer help to someone in need!
In the end, here are some sentences that can help you to talk to a person that might be thinking about suicide:
- "It seems to me that you are unhappy lately."
- "How are you feeling?"
- "Does it feel so difficult sometimes that you think things will never be better?"
- "Do you think about death?"
- "Are you thinking about suicide?"
- "How would you do that?"
- "When were you planning to do that?"
- "Would you like to get help in finding another way to get out of this difficult situation?"