15 Questions People Who've Been Suicidal Wish They Had Been Asked
Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.
When a loved one is thinking about suicide, it can sometimes feel hard to know what to do or say.
Maybe a co-worker expressed to you in passing they felt no one would notice if they were gone. Maybe a family member expressed to you they wished they wouldn’t wake up tomorrow. Or maybe a friend confided in you about a concrete plan to end their life. Whatever the situation may be, that kind of talk is serious, and shouldn’t be ignored.
We wanted to know what questions to ask someone who is feeling suicidal, so we asked members of our mental health community to share one question they wished they had been asked when they were feeling suicidal. It’s important to remember every person who experiences suicidal thoughts needs something different. Questions can be a great starting point, but shouldn’t be the end. Action following these questions can help people feel tangibly cared for and loved.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “Do you want to hang out? Often at my worst times I’ve always felt isolated and alone. It hasn’t been until this year that people really started taking note and inviting me out when I started to feel isolated.” — Kira M.
2. “Can I lie here with you? I didn’t need more words. My head had enough of those. I did need a hug to know that yes, I did exist to someone.” — Michelle M.
3. “What’s the worst thing you’re thinking or feeling right now? When I feel really badly, I feel obligated to hide it from people. It would be such a relief to know I’m allowed to say the worst of it out loud to someone.” — Elizabeth M.
4. “I wish someone asked me what was going on or how they could help. I wish someone listened to me. [In my experience,] people don’t even give a check up text if it’s not convenient for them. It’s sad, I tried talking to friends but they pushed it under the rug.” —Ashley M.
5. “I wish they would just straight up ask me if I was suicidal. I always get questions like, ‘How are you doing?’ ‘Are you OK?’ ‘Any bad thoughts?’ ‘You having a good or bad day?’ and so many other ones [that seem] to avoid the word ‘suicide.’ When these people avoid saying suicide or asking if I’m feeling suicidal, I feel like they don’t want to know how I’m really feeling. “ — Makayla F.
6. “Can I hold your hand tonight? I think it’s important to be able to sit with someone who’s suicidal and not look for a Band-Aid… [Just] sit with them without judgment and let them feel someone just be there.” — Gyna R.
7. “How can I help? And if [I] don’t know, [I] really don’t. Just be there.” — Jessi W.
8. “Why? A simple question I’ve never been asked in an honestly interested way. No judgment, no clumsy try to make my issues seem less important than I felt they were. Asking why with the true intent of understanding, and maybe even forgiving me. Caring for me without getting to hate me for my thoughts. That’s what I’d have needed. What I still sometimes need.” — Lydia D.
9. “Can I stay with you? Sometimes when I’m suicidal, all I need is someone to be present with me — to physically not be alone and to feel the presence of another person who is there wanting me alive.” — Alyse R.
10. “Are you actually OK? If anyone would have actually said that and made eye contact it would have made me feel like someone actually cared. No one ever tried to push past the ‘Yeah, I’m fine,’ and I really wish someone would have.” — Kacey K.
11. “Can I come over/can I come pick you up? I’ve got (a movie/board game/card game/new makeup/etc.) and (takeout/popcorn/candy/cake mix/etc). It would just be nice for someone to see what’s going on, and just want [to] be with me. [Please] don’t ‘help’ me or talk me out of something. Just be there. Literally. Distract me. Make me have fun.” — Brianne O.
12. “Do you want help with some of your chores? Can you talk to me about this? How are you feeling? Can you tell me what it feels like so I can understand what you’re going through? Is there anything I can do to support you through your struggle? Any of these would be nice.” — Devin L.
13. “Do you want me to take you to the hospital? I never want to say that out loud despite thinking it because I don’t want to be a burden and get people worried, but I would appreciate if someone took my feelings seriously and asked me that question.” — Valentina V.
14. “How can I help? People used to hear I’m suicidal and back off, apologizing and disappearing until I was ‘better.’ The help I needed wouldn’t have been huge — a text or a visit to my house when I was to anxious to go out, a tag in a silly meme, but unless they asked, ‘How can I help?’ I was never going to tell them any of that.” — Ciara L.
15. “The one thing I always always need to hear, is this: I won’t leave you.” — Krystal S.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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