It happens every 40 seconds somewhere in the world. In the U.S. alone, someone is successful at this every 13 minutes. Do you know what I’m referring to? I hesitate to tell you because once I say the word I fear you will stop reading this.
When you hear that word how does it make you feel? I feel sick to my stomach. I know when someone tells me about learning of a suicide or an attempt we tend to get quiet and whisper about it so no one else will hear. Typical reactions for most people are…”what a horrible thing…” “they seem so normal…” “it came as a shock… “were there any warning signs?” It leaves everyone dazed and confused. Let’s face it, it’s a very sensitive topic. No one’s sure what to say or how to react.
I’m working on a prevention campaign for a hospital foundation through my company. I personally have been touched by suicide involving people I care about a couple of times. Maybe even more. There’s a pretty good chance someone I know and even someone you know has been touched by this but never discussed it.
Suicide has such a stigma of shame. There are just too many families who have lost loved ones to suicide who are embarrassed, feel they have failed and as a result, don’t discuss it. But considering it’s the 3rd leading cause of death in the world for those ages 15-44 it’s time we opened a dialogue.
In doing my research for this I have learned many things I want to share. To begin with, if you think someone is thinking about suicide take it seriously and don’t be afraid to ask. Asking won’t make them do it. It might help them realize someone cares.
Lora Thomas is the executive director of NAMI Illinois. The National Alliance of Mental Illness. She says there is a myth that talking about suicide might give the person the idea. “We would just say talk about it,” says Thomas.
Thomas says, “The death of Robin Williams put a face on suicide and had more people talking about it.” That’s because most people were shocked that this successful, famous comedian could take his own life.
She adds 80-90% of people who attempt suicide are dealing with depression or a mental health issue. So more often than not it’s not something that just comes out of nowhere. That’s why communication is key. People who attempt suicide are dealing with a feeling of hopelessness.
Most people who contemplate or attempt suicide don’t want to die, they just want to stop hurting. And in many cases, they are deeply conflicted about ending their own lives. If you can show them concern and let them know it can get better it could be a life saver.
If talking about it can save a life, why not just talk about it?
Have you been close to someone who has attempted or committed suicide? If so, what’s the best advice you can give?