A few weeks ago, someone in my circle committed suicide. I saw him an hour before he took his own life and I had absolutely no idea he was suffering. The most I thought was that (like us all) he had a few life problems to sort out.
Suicide is now one of the leading causes of death and the rates of male suicide in England continues to climb. 2020 has tested many of us to the limit and you don’t need to look far to find someone feeling a bit blue. But how do you know when someone is down or if it is something more? Should you notice a friend or family member acting out of character, there are a few things you can do. Read on:
1. Assess the Situation
Firstly, it is important to assess the seriousness of the situation to determine whether or not you may need to access immediate intervention. Suicidal comments and evidence of self-harm are clear red flags you need to get outside help.
2. Talk and Listen
If your friend/loved one has appeared down or struggling, it is hard to know whether they are in need of help. They may insist everything is fine and be dismissive; thus, it’s truly difficult to get that person to open up. Be prepared to meet a brick wall when attempting to help. Talk to that person. Ask if there is anything troubling them and let them talk. Listen, rinse and repeat. This should not be a one-off convo – you need to keep checking in with them. Even if you can’t offer solutions, just being a friend has unmeasurable value.
3. Be There
As previously mentioned, being there for someone can sometimes mean the difference between things being bearable and too much to deal with. They may not want to go out. That’s okay – take some movies and chocolates around, order a Chinese. Just be there as often as possible.
4. Understand There May Be no Outward Signs
Over a quarter of suicidal people show no outward signs of depression, particularly once they have made up their minds to carry it out. If someone has been down for a long time and suddenly, they just seem ‘okay’ without any positive changes in their circumstances, this is the time to keep a close eye on things. However, know that no one can be there 24/7 and if someone has made up their mind and then committed suicide, please do not blame yourself.
5. Seek Help
Should you believe your friend/loved one is at risk of suicide, do not hesitate in seeking professional help. Remember, it is extremely difficult to know whether a person is planning on committing suicide. If a person is hell-bent on doing this, then spotting it and being able to prevent it is almost impossible. This is why it’s vital to keep in mind the above-mentioned points.
Here are some useful helpline telephone numbers. Calling can really make a difference:
Samaritans: 116 123 (24h)
www.sossilenceofsuicide.org – Online, live chat and phone.