Suicide Prevention Month 2021: What to say & what NOT to say to someone on the edge with depression!
Updated: Jan 28, 2022
This month (September 2021) is Suicide Prevention Month in the U.S, and it is also World Suicide Prevention Day tomorrow (10th September 2021).
To coincide with this, I especially wanted to write something 'from the heart' because, after the brutality that I've been through with bipolar HELL, I really shouldn't still be here to write these words, and I therefore know how important it is to share them.
Desperate worry for my friends
I have several groups of friends from all walks of life: there are those who I met before the illness, those during, and those after; there are those who were a great support, those who hadn't a clue what to say & ran a mile, and those who said completely the wrong thing and made matters much worse.
It has not been easy to maintain relationships with people through the course of my illness and sometimes even professionals said the wrong thing (the mental health nurse who told me to 'try harder' and the doctor who told me I'd be thrown out of the clinic if I shared my suicidal thoughts again) YES that really did happen!
- How the hell am I alive after the 'support' and 'help' I've received over the years?! Literally, God only knows...
Anyway, I want others to get better support & help than I did so that's why I write all of this stuff down!
So many of my friends (the ones I met through my psychiatric nightmare and afterwards) are having a horrendous time right now, and I'm spending a lot of time supporting them myself because I know that those around them haven't got a clue what to say.
For this reason, today I'm including a post that I wrote on the 'Dying to Stay Alive' Facebook Page recently, which I've slightly expanded on, (there are many other stupid and insensitive comments that have been slung at me over the years too, but I could go on forever)!
I hope that this can be used as a guide for those who are unsure as to what to say & what to do when they are trying to support someone with depression and/or suicidal thoughts.
EDUCATION is KEY to saving lives!!
"The media messages for depression are wrong! It’s impossible to exercise when you’re dying to stay alive with depression and it’s almost impossible to talk too!
DON’T tell them to be grateful for a beautiful day because they cannot see it and telling them that will make it far worse!
DON’T tell them to exercise either! They need to REST and to conserve their energy!
DON’T force them to talk! Talking with skewed thoughts leads to misunderstanding and arguments! Don’t push them!!!!!
DON’T judge their skewed thoughts - this is not their fault!!
DON'T tell them to: 'get a grip', 'get over it', 'man up', 'keep a stiff upper lip', 'keep their chin up', 'stop being a lazy fucking asshole', 'stop sponging off your parents', 'stop dragging everyone else down with you', DON'T fucking say these things or you will propel them to their DEATH!
DON'T tell them 'not to be depressed' - they're not trying or choosing to be this way!!! (FFS)
DON'T tell them: "I think you should do XYZ" - they've already tried it and it didn't work - they may be depressed but they are NOT stupid!!
DON'T tell them to be grateful that they're not starving in Africa - they already feel guilt X 1,000,000 they don't need you adding to it!!!
DON'T tell them to:
"Stop being so self-indulgent"
That one (from a close friend) very nearly killed me, as did:
"You're talking about it, so that means you're not going to do it"
(From a partner, big tonne of support that was)
This statement is WRONG people often do talk about suicide before they act and it's a big, fucking MASSIVE, GARGANTUAN RED FLAG - TAKE THEM VERY SERIOUSLY!!
TELL THEM THEY ARE LOVED
GUIDE THEM TO OTHERS WHO’VE BEEN THERE
TELL THEM TO REST
"I HEAR YOU, I AM HERE FOR YOU, I LOVE YOU, PLEASE KNOW THAT."
TELL THEM THAT THIS IS NOT THEIR FAULT
ENCOURAGE BUT DON’T PRESSURE THEM!
TELL THEM NOT TO ATTACH GUILT
GO WITH THEM TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE
LITERALLY HOLD THEIR HAND!
TELL THEM THAT THIS IS A LEGITIMATE REASON TO STOP WORK
SPEAK TO PEOPLE ON THEIR BEHALF
EXPLAIN THINGS TO THEIR FRIENDS
DO ALL YOU CAN TO REDUCE STRESS, PRESSURE AND WORRY AROUND THEM
BE QUIET AND CALM WITH THEM
FEED, BATHE, CLOTHE and HELP WITH THE SMALLEST OF TASKS
REPEATEDLY TELL THEM YOU’RE THERE FOR THEM BUT DON’T HOUND THEM!
TEXT FIRST TO STAY IN TOUCH BUT ACCEPT THAT THEY MAY NOT BE ABLE TO RESPOND
TRAWL THE INTERNET FOR ADVICE AND HELP ON THEIR BEHALF. GIVE OPTIONS BUT NOT COMMANDS.
And if all else fails:
BEG, PLEAD, and IMPLORE them to PLEASE STAY! Recovery is hard and staying alive is not easy at all but it IS possible!
There is always always ALWAYS hope!!"
Tomorrow, I will be writing something from the heart again for World Suicide Prevention day - This isn't easy to do because of my proximity to the subject matter but I'm determined to keep documenting this important stuff to EDUCATE people on behalf of those gone already and also for all of those out there who are in deep suffering and being totally misunderstood and unsupported!!
Thanks for reading,
Speak to you soon,