Raising the secret ‘S’ word that no-one wants to talk about.
October is Mental Health Awareness Month and more and more of us know someone who has committed suicide or has a family member who has taken their own life. Sadly, I know four families who have recently lost a loved one to suicide. I have also lived with a family member with suicide ideation as a result of trauma. I held my breath for over four years before we got to the other side. It’s a very, very tough space to be in for everyone.
Suicide is not a topic we want to talk about or deal with but it is a reality in the world we live in. According to psychologist, Claire Newton, who has a special interest in suicide, “Most people don’t want to be dead but they do want to get out of the terrible situation in which they find themselves. They are in deep emotional pain, but they can’t see a way out and are often in a deep state of depression.”
The Secret ‘S’ Word: Important questions to ask
These are two questions Claire suggests we be brave enough to ask someone if we pick up telltale signs indicating they may be considering taking their life. She advises asking them directly and not beating around the bush, it could save a life:
- Are you thinking of killing yourself?
- Would you rather be dead?
If they say yes, then ask them these three questions:
- How are you thinking of killing yourself? (what is the means?)
- When are you planning on killing yourself? (what is the time frame?)
- Where are you planning on killing yourself?
If they have an answer for all three questions, don’t let them out of your sight. Set up a suicide watch and get professional help. Do not call their bluff and say things like:
- Go ahead and do it anyway
- It’s just the easy option, it’s the coward’s way out
- Don’t be so selfish
If you have answered yes to any of the questions above, please call one of the below numbers for immediate support and assistance. It can be another way. There is always another way. Reach out now.
Suicide Crisis Helpline
0800 567 567
Department of Social Development Substance Abuse Helpline
0800 12 13 14
Cipla Mental Health Helpline
0800 456 789
For the full context for the above, listen to this very frank podcast interview with psychologist, Claire Newton, about suicide sensitivity. She brings both her professional and lived experience to the conversation as we cover:
- The risk factors that lead people to commit suicide
- Telltale signs or behavioural or visual clues we should look out for
- What we can do to help those considering suicide
- What to say to someone considering suicide
- How suicidal people can support themselves
- What to say to children if someone has committed suicide
The episode was recorded during the global pandemic and remains as relevant today as it did then. It is both a sobering and an empowering conversation. Please make sure you share this podcast and this email with others who may need help.
Suicide is like no other death
Suicide is like no other death. Those left behind are wracked with guilt and so many questions, wondering what they could have done to prevent it or how they could have missed it.
Be compassionate with yourself as surviving friends and family. Sometimes there are no warnings and telltale signs because your loved one didn’t want you to know. Don’t lay blame or point fingers. These situations are incredibly complex and it is never one thing that caused the suicide.
Reach out to these families with kindness and compassion. If someone in your family or on your team at work has committed suicide, make sure you get the support and help you need to work through the impact it has had on you.
Be gentle with yourself.
From my heart to yours.