If you’ve struggled with suicidal feels or intentions, you know how hard it can be to open up and ask for help. However, sharing your experience is essential to receiving the support and guidance you need not only to survive, but thrive.
It may seem impossible, but there are ways you can take control and become your own best advocate.
Understand the Difference Between Feelings & Intent
The word “suicidal” has been used to imply many different states of distress and experience. Some people have a longing to die or feel so terrible they wish they were dead. Others think and act upon thoughts of self-harm. Still others make, and tragically carry out, a plan to take their own life. These states help differentiate between suicidal feelings and suicidal intent.
Many people, especially those facing a crippling physical or mental illness, may long from relief through death. While they may think about self-harm, they do not have any intention on acting on those thoughts.
Most professionals in the mental health world use the term “suicidal” to describe someone who has suicidal intent. This means that a person is intending to harm themselves and is making serious plans to do so.
If you have suicidal intent, please know: you are not a terrible person. However, you are facing a terrible situation. It’s likely so few people understand the pain you’ve experienced. Chances are, you’ve tried so hard for so long and nothing has improved.
You need help now, but there is no shame in that. Do not wait. Do not scroll down. Call 1-800-273-8255 now. The people you’ll talk to will listen without judgement and offer a safe conversation where you can be vulnerable and honest. Promise yourself you won’t do anything until you’ve called. If you’re too anxious to talk to someone in person text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the US, anytime, about any type of crisis.
Make Mention of Mental Illness
One of the best ways to open up about your feelings is to start small. For many who struggle with thoughts of suicide, mental illness plays an important factor. You can gain more strength to be honest by talking about your mental health in your every day life. It can be as simple as saying, “Depression is kicking me down today” or “I got to talk with my therapist this week and it was really good.”
Making mention of your mental illness will help fight the stigma and educate those around you. You’ll find it easier to have deeper conversations if you can break through those first barriers of admitting you have a mental illness and how it impacts your day to day life.
Seek Emotional Safety
When opening up about your feelings, focus on those with whom you feel emotionally safe. Those who offer emotional safety are those who don’t make disparaging comments, refrain from judgement, and assert their love and commitment. You know when you talk to these people that they truly care, even if they don’t fully understand.
An emotionally safe person could be a family member, a friend, a co-work, a mental health professional, or an ecclesiastical leader. Talking to someone who has struggled with mental health issues or suicide is especially useful.
Starting the Conversation
One of the hardest parts of talking about suicide is the very first part: starting the conversation. If you’re anxious, reaching out through social media or technology can make it easier. Consider simply asking someone if they could talk at a specific time you’ve chosen. Let them know it is about your mental health and you need some support.
It’s normal for those who haven’t faced serious suicidal thoughts to understand what you’re going through. This doesn’t meant they won’t be able to help, but you can make the conversation more productive by trying to explain yourself as clearly and honestly as possible. One way to achieve this is by practicing beforehand. Go over how you’re feeling and how you want to describe it. Be clear about how thoughts of suicide are impacting your life or what level of intent you’re at.
What Do You Need?
One important thing you need to be prepared to discuss is your current needs. Is your suicidal intent so strong you feel you may need to visit a facility? Do you want to start therapy or learn more about medication? Perhaps you’re unsure. No matter what, mention these things in your discussion. There is a good chance the person you’re talking to, unless they are a health professional, will find it difficult to know what to do. You can help them know what you need.
One of the most important things you can discuss is a safety plan. This includes removing harmful objects, such as knives and firearms, and how they can help in moments your suicidal intent increases.
A Moment of Courage
There will never be a perfect moment. There will never be a perfect person to talk to. You’ll find so many reasons not to reach out. You may need to use all of your energy and all of your strength to create a moment of courage. That moment could be right now. You deserve help. You deserve support. It isn’t always fair that you have to fight to get it, but don’t give up.
Take your phone right now. Pull you up your Facebook page. Scroll to the top of this article and text the hotline.
This article was inspired by the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition. For more information on suicide prevention, click here. You can also watch their lastest video below, with one life-altering tip to prevent suicide.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.