Trigger Warning: S*icide
It has been a couple of years since a friend of mine attempted suicide. To the teenager I was then, it meant confusion, panic, and dangerous guilt. With messed up teenage ideals about trust, I kept the information to myself but that just made it worse. I felt stranded and alone.
The summer passed, but the struggle stayed. Today, luckily, both of us are better and alive. So, to all of you stranded in a similar situation, or to those of you who watch the signs unfold in your loved ones, here are a few things I learned and a few mistakes I made. I hope it helps.
- - One of the very first things I realized was how nothing can replace professional help. It seemed like I knew my person much better than a stranger, and this idea is the most misleading thought I’ve ever had. I didn’t know what the person felt like, and some immature part of myself decided to fake it- to act as if I understood. The person needs support - both from you and a professional. Both are entirely different and equally essential. One of the best things you can ever do for someone is encourage them to seek help.
- - Give them hope. Look at sunrises and sunsets together, but don’t count them. Tell them how you see them in your future. Share your earphones and your art. Exist together in comfortable silence. If you can, give them something to look forward to every day, even if it’s just your presence.
- - One feeling that couldn’t be suppressed during the whole experience was an insistent fear of death. Loss somehow seemed closer. This feeling can be overwhelming, manipulatively so, that I, at some point in time, forgot I hadn’t lost the person yet. I am no expert at dealing with it, but do not mourn the person already. Look at them breathing, and as hard as it might be: have hope.
- - It is okay to feel exhausted. It is normal. Take breaks from the atmosphere. Give yourself some time to process everything happening. And remember, not everything is your fault.
- - Ask, but listen more. Suicide is a triggering topic, but it definitely isn’t a taboo topic. Talking about it can be extremely helpful, as long as both sides feel comfortable enough. Conversations can have this incredible power sometimes.
- - Take signs seriously. No, they are not joking.
Your experience might be drastically different from mine, and I hope you find a way around it. When in doubt, as they say, "be kind and have courage”.