Content warning: Folks who’ve been suicidal might be better off skipping this post. It describes a certain pattern of feelings in graphic terms that might be triggering.
Many of us will encounter someone online, at some point, who is suicidal. Now, let’s break this down for a moment. People who are suicidal are people who don’t have enough resources to deal with their level of stress/trauma.
Those who are suicidal are obviously very likely to be isolated from friends and estranged from family (often because of abuse that led to the suicidal feelings). This is a common reason why someone would have no resources. The worst thing I can think of saying to a stranger on the internet who confides that they are suicidal is also one of the most common:
“Think about how much your friends and family love you and would miss you! Live for them!”
The very assumption that every person must have loving friends and loving family may well be enough to drive a desperately hurt and lonely person over the edge. Especially if you present it as their reason to live. (I know. Aside from talking to many suicidal people with the same lack of family and friends, it’s nearly killed me to hear this.)
A better way to say it might be, “Do you have any close friends or family? Do you feel that they love you?” If they say no, you have a chance to offer your condolences without making them feel even more outcast and hopeless. If they say yes, then would be a good time to advise them to cling to those people.
Never assume that someone at the end of their rope has the same resources as you do. Simply remind them that life still holds many possibilities yet, and don’t argue that “it’s not that bad,” because if it wasn’t, they wouldn’t be considering suicide. Just by the simple act of reminding the suicidal person that others will understand their lack of friends or family, you may be saving someone’s life.
(Reblog to spread the word and save a life!)