The topic of suicide is one which is extremely overwhelming, however, if you notice, the discussions in relation to suicide and people who live with suicidal thoughts have been extremely blame-oriented and full of criticism. This is where we as a society are wrong, as we tend to isolate from the idea of lending an empathetic ear and a helping hand to individuals who live with such painful thoughts every single day of their lives. We fail to do what we genuinely should do, which is to be there for them regardless of what our perceptions may be, which in fact needs to change. As a society, we have contributed to the creation of a common ideology or belief which eventually leads us to perceive the idea of suicide in one specific light, it’s almost like we’re unable to identify each of our own blind spots due to our strong attachment to this specific ideology. We need to acknowledge the fact that most of us do not and can possibly never know the extent of someone else’s suffering. The moment we create a space for acceptance around this idea, we will be able to identify where we’re going wrong and act in a more appropriate and giving manner – which is exactly what they need. It’s also imperative to realize that an individual living with suicidal thoughts is not different from any of us, they are not weak and they don’t need sympathy but rather empathy. There are instances where life pushes us to a point where it feels absolutely unbearable; it feels like your world is going to fall apart and it all comes down to a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness but being surrounded with people who are present with you in the darkest of times can in turn inculcate feelings of hope, no matter what the circumstances may be.
It is important to create an outlook which is more accepting with kindness and compassion. Telling a person how they should and should not feel tends to trigger the person to go into an even further downward spiral; telling the person that their feelings are unfair and they make you uncomfortable leads to an increase in the severity of their existent downward spiral, and trying to control the individual from feeling a certain way is the furthest we can push them down. Think about it and try to identify your own blind spots in relation to situations like this, whether it was your friend or family member having and living with suicidal thoughts, depression or any other mental health issues. Did you invalidate how they felt? Did you think these, “How can they have these thoughts? They have everything in life”, “Other people have it much worse, they should look on the bright side”, “They’re always so happy, it’s just a phase”, “They’re so ambitious and smart, they can’t be depressed.” There are instances where we say these statements out loud which comes across to be even more invalidating towards an individual who is barely trying to hold it together.
Acknowledge the fact that mental illness is not always visible. By keeping this outlook in mind, instead of attacking the person living with such thoughts and issues, we will be in a better position to help them. We must be present with them amidst their wave of darkness, listen to them and approach them, not with a problematic outlook but rather with a more solution-oriented and hopeful one. It is impossible to be there for someone else in all honesty and compassion when we ourselves have not worked on defeating our own misconceptions and critical perceptions towards the idea and them. We must indulge and engage in self-work in order to be understanding towards the other individual’s feelings. Doing so can lead us on a path of righteousness, kindness and acceptance.
Listening is the most vital skill that you can inherit, it’s truly a gift. In a world full of people who believe that they will be looked down upon and looked at differently, listening presents you with an opportunity to help them overcome that thought process and help them believe that they do have that one person who is present with them and will listen to them compassionately despite their circumstances, while providing a non-judgmental and safe space. This one skill can change everything; it can change a person’s life, help them be more resilient and inculcate the hope which they believed they would never experience again. If you’re surrounded with someone who is living with suicidal thoughts, simply asking them “What can I do for you at this moment?”, “How can I help you?” will provide the support which they believed they never had, even simply pointing out how resilient they are despite the fact that they don’t see it might make them step onto the path of actually acknowledging it themselves.
The truth is, your presence, warmth, empathy, understanding and supportive statements can save a life. It can provide a glimpse of light in a wave of darkness which they probably thought they’d never overcome; it can give them hope and inculcate a belief in the idea that no matter how dark their world may seem at that very moment, the sun still rises, it always does and they don’t have to do it alone. To know that you don’t have to find the light alone, is everything and more. Don’t add to their darkness, be someone’s light.
Save a life.
Suicide prevention helplines:
- Aasra (Mumbai) 022-27546669
- Sneha (Chennai) 044-24640050
- Sumaitri (Delhi) 011-23389090
- Cooj (Goa) 0832- 2252525
- Jeevan (Jamshedpur) 065-76453841
- Pratheeksha (Kochi) 048-42448830
- Maithri (Kochi) 0484-2540530
- Roshni (Hyderabad) 040-66202000
- Lifeline 033-64643267 (Kolkata)
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