How to Support Someone Who is Suicidal

On Tuesday, October 3, Temple student Richard Dalcourt passed away from suicide. Dalcourt was a first-semester freshman and majored in mechanical engineering. His loss has made an impact on the Temple community. The next step is getting the university to recognize the importance of suicide prevention.

One week after Richard's death, October 10, was World Mental Health Day. This day was dedicated to raising awareness on the number of people who struggle with their mental issues and to remind them that even when they feel alone, they are not.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is one of the biggest concerns regarding mental health and it’s the leading cause of death in the United States. The NIMH collected data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2015 and noted that the second highest cause of death for individuals between the ages of 15 and 34 is suicide. Individuals between the ages of 10 and 14 ranked third.  

The NIMH added a table of 10 different age groups and ranked them from 1-10 on the leading causes of death. They also included demographics on categories such as gender, race/ethnicity, and by state to show where the suicide rate falls.

The CDCP looked at the behavior among different age groups and discovered that individuals between the ages of 18-25 had the highest percentage of having suicidal thoughts. They also noted that people who identified as two different races were ranked the highest.The NIMH reported in 2015 that the most common method  of death were firearms. There were a total of 44,193 suicide deaths that year and 22,018 deaths were from firearms. The other types of death followed suffocating, poisoning, and other.

Suicide is a difficult subject to discuss, but when there isn’t enough support or awareness, it leaves too many people suffering. If you know someone who is suicidal or has suicidal thoughts, there are a few things you need to digest before you approach them.

1.     Acknowledge what suicide is

Suicide is like a demonic voice trapped inside your head, constantly convincing you that your life is meaningless and that ending it would be beneficial. People need to realize that those who are suicidal hear or feel these types of horrific thoughts every day. They should realize that the percentage of those are suicidal, have tried to commit suicide, or have committed suicide are far too high.

2.     Understand suicide

Understanding suicide doesn’t just include research on statistics. While this is important to know, it matters to try and learn what causes people to feel suicidal and how it affects them daily.

Everyone handles it differently, but by learning what the average person goes through, it may provide some insight on how to approach or support someone that you know is suffering.

3.     Understand that anyone can suffer

A lot of times the people who appear to have it all going for them, aren’t really asked if they’re doing okay mentally. There’s the myth that floats around in society where if someone has a lot of something, then there isn’t a problem regarding their mental health. This includes money, material items, friends, academics, or even being popular on social media.

The reality is that some people can hide it better or they’re terrified of showing anyone a sign.

Please remember to check up on these people, as for the people who are more open with their inner battles. However, also make sure that there isn’t competition over who should receive more love depending on how open someone is about their mental illnesses.

Everyone needs to be reminded that they are loved and they need to be given constant support.

4.     Understand that nobody wants to be suicidal

No one wakes up eager to feel drained and debate over whether or not to get out of bed. No one wants to have that small voice lingering inside of their head and providing a false insight on life. No one wants to look at an object and possibly think the object is strong enough to kill.

Being suicidal isn’t something you can just switch on and off.

5.     Approach someone

This can be tricky for a few reasons. Although suicidal people want help, they won’t always be open about it. Even if you tell them that you are hear to listen, explaining suicidal thoughts to someone can almost feel like a burden.

They have a huge fear that people aren’t going to stick around if they open up or that they’ll be judged. They’re also afraid that you might say the wrong thing. First thing to make clear is that you never tell someone “you won’t do it” and try to test their will. It is not okay to even make a joke about it, especially if you think that’s what will help them snap out of it.

Be cautious when informing them how upset you are over them and that you want the cops to get involved. Unless the person tells you that they want the police  involved, don’t call them. If it is a true emergency and you feel that it will too late if you don’t call, then reach out.

Remember, one day someone may tell you a lot then the next day they may not feel like talking. It’s hard to watch, but providing your love and daily support can make a difference. Letting them know how much they matter, checking in on them constantly, tell them that you are here for them are some good starters.

You can ask or suggest that they seek a therapist, but if they aren’t ready, then don’t press this on them.

6. Never make them feel like this is their fault

This is most important. Never make them feel like they’re overreacting or only doing this for attention, or that everything will be okay in a matter of time. They already have enough negativity and problems on their plate; they don’t need to feel even more insecure over those ignorant sentiments.

As someone who is trying to be there for those struggling, you need to respect and understand that the effects of fighting suicide can be long-term. Don’t offer your care for someone if you aren’t ready to deal with random panics and having the person being in a constant state of low.

Your love is greatly appreciated, but people need it a lot more than just a couple texts filled with hearts, saying “I’m here for you!”.