Saturday I woke up to a text that no friend or loved one ever wants to wake up: “_____ tried to kill herself last night. She’s in the hospital.”
I blinked several times hoping that the words on the screen were remnants of a bad dream but once I was fully awake, the words remained on the screen and the air immediately left my lungs—I felt as if I had been punched in the gut.”
For me, from my own personal experience (in a future blog post), and having dealt with more than one suicidal patient as a counselor, I have some insight for anyone who’s dealing with someone who’s threatening suicide:
- They need professional help. If the person has attempted suicide or even threatens it, they are beyond where you can help them personally. They need professional intervention and it doesn’t always mean drugs, but people who are trained to help them unbury what is hiding under the darkness of depression, hopelessness, and the crushing feeling of despair.
- Some people use suicidal threats as means of control or to manipulate others. I’ve experienced this within the ranks of my family and it is very frustrating, discouraging, and honestly—hurtful. However, all personal feelings aside, I will tell you from a counseling perspective that there is a reason people do this. Again, professional help is needed. If you are being threatened by someone that they will kill themselves if you _______ then you have every right to take legal measures to get them the help they need. You can make a call to a local mental health center which can help you file for a mental hygiene hearing to protect a person from themselves by committing them to a hospital. No matter how much you love someone, you cannot let them control you by threatening their life. Sadly, if they make that choice, then it is their choice and theirs alone. It’s not an easy thing to process nor should it be, but it is the truth.
- You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves. I heard on a podcast recently, “No amount of love you could ever give him would have made him not kill himself.” I’m sure it hurt to hear, but I’m also sure that on a deeper level part of it was healing. As people who love and care for those who are in the grips of despair, desperation, and heartache, we can and must try to help them but if they continually refuse or don’t want our help—we really are experiencing another reality of human life—powerlessness. We really are only responsible for ourselves and when you want someone to live, but they do not—it sucks and it hurts like hell, but you can know that you tried your best and did your best. The act of suicide hurts more than just the person involved. This is why if you’ve lost someone to suicide, you can feel so utterly powerless and exposed.
If you have a loved one who needs help, please call “911” or dial 1-800-273-8255 and reach out for help. Don’t try to tackle this alone or be sworn to secrecy. They may be mad at you for a while, but at least they’ll be around to be mad at you.
As a reminder, If you’ve been dealing with a loved one who threatens suicide as a form of control or manipulation, there is something deeper involved and professional intervention is needed. With this type of person, it is important you protect yourself.
Lastly, if you’ve lost someone to suicide and are feeling pressing guilt, anger, sadness, etc; you can find a support group by visiting the AFSP Website (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention).
Stay strong friends,
Photo by TraumaAndDissociation