How to help people who are feeling suicidal.
Suicide is the leading cause of death in men aged under 50. I listened to a podcast by Professor Alice Roberts recently and the advice was so practical I thought I'd share it here.
If you feel that someone you know is feeling very low, be present and listen - don't nullify the conversation, don't put people back in their box. It is easy to look in and say, "You've got so much to live for". People are too ready to want to try to fix the problems, but those feeling low just need someone to listen and understand what they are going through.
Understand that people don't want to die, they just want to escape their own heads, they want it all to stop. If people have attempted suicide, don't say it's a silly thing to have done - that's belittling and it comes across as an attitude of judgement. Unfortunately some hospital staff have been known to have this attitude.
Suicide is never vengeance, it is a desire for a means of escape or a cry for help. People feeling low need the right people around them who are going to have empathy and who are going to stay quiet and listen. Visit them, send messages, make voice calls. Just say "I'm here, I'm with you, you're not alone, it's ok, if you want to speak I'm here".
Feeling suicidal is a lonely existence - they need someone to metaphysically and physically hold their hand. Avoid small talk, it will make them feel like they are not being taken seriously. There is anxiety in isolation, which is why isolation is used as a punishment.
I hope this helps. Look after yourself too.