You can help save a life, but not today.
Today, you just need to understand that we all know someone touched by mental illness. A family member, a close friend. Someone close to you is probably in pain and hurting, but you just don’t realize it.
One of those people might be someone suffering from depression. Depression that isn’t being treated. Or that’s being treated, but not well treated.
If a person is battling severe depression that is untreated or badly treated, they may also be suffering from thoughts of death. Of wanting to die.
And that’s where you come in. Because you can help.
Whether we realize it or not, we may know someone who is thinking of killing themselves. Too often, we only hear about someone’s suicide after-the-fact; few run through a checklist of obvious warning signs ahead of time. And virtually nobody comes right out and says, “I want to kill myself,” or, “I’ve been thinking of ending it all.”
More often than not, if there are any signs, the signs are going to be subtle. A friend who withdraws more and declines to hang out with you, or begs off going out time and time again.
A family member who talks about feeling trapped in their job, or their family life, or just in life in general.
Someone who seems down and hopeless for weeks on end, but then suddenly one day is talking about happier things and is seemingly out of their funk.
“Oh, and by the way, do you remember that time we went to the amusement park and we both tried to hit the bell with the mallet? I won that big bear? Well, here, I want you to have it, I don’t need it any more.”
People who are severely depressed see no future for themselves. But once they’ve made the decision to take their own lives, they experience a new peacefulness. A calm acceptance. They’ve made their decision, and now all that’s left to do is to tie up a few loose ends. Like giving away a few things that mean something to them to their friends and loved ones.
If a person has children or a partner, they will also often make sure their loved ones are taken care of before leaving. It could be a casual conversation with someone else in the family…
“Hey, if anything were ever to happen to me, you’d make sure Jill and the kids were looked after, right?”
“Is everything alright?”
“Oh sure, I just wanted to make sure, you know… I mean, people can get into accidents and stuff all the time.”
Someone who is suicidal won’t necessarily hit you over the head with signs and symptoms. They may be as subtle as some of these things, which are quickly denied if the person is confronted with them.
A single person’s life can be saved. But it is most often — and most helpfully — saved by a loved one (not a stranger at the end of a crisis helpline). A loved one who makes the gut-wrenching and terrifying decision to reach out to another… And doesn’t take “no” for an answer.
You can help save a life.