You know when you have one of those days where everything seems to go wrong? You wake up and stub your toe on the dresser, spill hot coffee down yourself as you rush to your job that you’re late for, only to have your boss shout at you for hours. You head home, get stuck in traffic, eventually arrive through the door to find that your washing machine has broke and there is water everywhere.
I bet you’ve thought ‘What’s the point?’ at some point on days like that. This example is trivial of course, but there are individuals out there who go through horrible ordeals that force them to ask that same question, ‘What’s the point?’
Do you know the number of people who have asked that question, and thought suicide was the only answer? 2 million? 5 million?
Nope. 200 million. 800,000 of those people succeed in their suicide attempt.
Take a second to think about those numbers. Let’s take 1 of those lives. The average life span is 71.5 years. Breaking it down slightly that is; 858 months, roughly 26598 days, 638352 hours, 38301120 minutes and finally, 2298067200 seconds.
The highest rate of suicide is among adults between 45 and 64 years old. Let’s go roughly half way and say this 1 person took their own life at 53 years old. Due to the fact this person couldn’t see any other answer than suicide, they lost out on 165168 hours. Think of what you could do with those hours...
One major factor of people thinking of suicide, is the sense of hopelessness and loneliness. They think that no one cares about them. All it takes is a little conversation, or even a simple ‘Are you okay?’ for someone to feel cared for. Now is that really going to make a dent in your 38301120 minutes in life? If you said yes, I think you need to re-evaluate your moral compass.
Evidence has suggested, from those who have survived a suicide attempt, is on the build up to the attempt, they realise they didn’t actually want to end their lives, but instead have someone step in and stop them. So what is stopping more people from doing so?
A teacher asks a question to the class, you wouldn’t hold your hand up if you didn’t know the answer, would you?
This is one reason stopping people from stepping in. The lack of knowledge on suicide and empathy for it, means some people think they aren’t ‘qualified’ to help the vulnerable individual because they don’t have all the right answers. Ta dahhh, you both have something in common, you both don’t have the answers. The only difference is that, one of you thinks that he/she is the only one without the answers. Simply showing the vulnerable that they aren’t alone, both physically, and in terms of not having all the right answers, could do wonders for their mental wellbeing.
Unless your version of helping involves teasing them about their mental health and mocking them for even thinking of suicide, you’re not going to make it worse for the vulnerable individual by simply talking to them and showing you care. You might also think that talking about it will bring it to the forefront of their minds and give them encouragement to go through with the attempt.
To that I have two points. Firstly, if they are feeling suicidal, then it is already at the forefront of their minds, all the time. Secondly, as discussed earlier, those who have survived a suicide attempt aren’t looking for encouragement, but instead someone to stop them. If you talk to a vulnerable person and show you care, they will know that they are not invisible in the world, because you have noticed they aren’t doing so well.
Okay, so you feel uncomfortable talking to someone about their mental health. That’s fine, it’s a tricky subject to approach. That doesn’t mean you can’t help in a subtle way. There are so many resources available to help vulnerable, some of which are available at the bottom of this blog.
And this might sound silly, but why not leave a leaflet or a suicide prevention resource on their desk? Or slip it in their bag? (Only do this one if you are good friends with the person!) Putting a helpful resource somewhere the vulnerable individual is guaranteed to see it, could well give them hope there is help out there for them, and encourage them to seek said help.
Have you read my other blog “How social media is preventing suicide”? If you haven’t, I recommend you do. It explores how social media is developing methods and technologies to detect vulnerable people on their sites and extend support and guidance.
Carrying on how you can be subtle in your help, you could keep an eye on what the vulnerable person is doing on their social media accounts. People experiencing suicidal thoughts might well be experiencing depression and anxiety, therefore might be withdrawn from society. However, this might not apply to social media. There voice could still be very vocal on these sites.
Their activity on social media might be the earliest indication that they aren’t doing so well, and need your help. However, if you don’t want to help face-to-face, social media have post reporting features that will alert the vulnerable individuals that someone does care for them, and will offer guidance and support that they need.
One of the worst phrases to ever say to yourself is ‘I wish I did…’. So when it comes to preventing suicide, let’s work together so we never have to say that statement! In the past, the media would wait until a big profile name took their own life before the spotlight shifted. I explored this in the blog “Should we just sit and wait until another celebrity takes their own life?” Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, took his own life a few months back, and similar to the case of Robin Williams, the media spotlight was firmly on suicide once again.
The blog explores the question of why we wait for tragedy to strike before we are motivated to create and maintain positive social change.
Which is why I think today, World Suicide Prevention day, is the perfect time to make a promise to ourselves. We won’t sit around and wait for another person to take their own life, before we start making a change and helping those vulnerable people. We will work together and bring the total number of people who take their lives every year, to 0.
Because like I’ve said before, any number higher than 0, is unacceptable.
Below are a list of amazing resources helping prevent suicide.
Tel: 116 123
Tel: 0300 123 3393
Tel: 0800 068 4141
Tel: 0800 58 58 58
Tel: 0808 11 11
Tel: 0808 802 5544