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3 Things People Contemplating Suicide Need to Hear

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Here are three things people contemplating suicide need to hear:

1. You matter, you are loved, and people would be worse off if you died.

2. It gets better.

3. There is help that actually helps, and I can help you obtain it.

We tend to do a pretty good job with number one when confronted with someone actually contemplating suicide. We could do a better job of saying it more frequently, whether we think people need to hear it or not, because lots of people need affirmation even though they don’t appear to be in dire straits.

We also tend to do a pretty good job with number three, at least some of the time. This one would be easier if mental health care were more financially accessible, and it’s important to work toward mental health care accessibility in addition to being supportive of people when they’re on the brink of irreversible decisions.

But societally, we’re pretty bad at number two. Think about the last time someone significantly younger than you told you how stressful or hard their life was. Did you sympathize? Did you tell them things get easier? Or did you say, as many people in my life have, “Just wait until you’re in high school/in college/working a real job/raising kids”?

That kind of response, when life already seems to be nothing but misery, is worse than unhelpful; it makes suicide seem rational, and it undercuts number one and number three. After all, if life feels terrible now and is just going to get worse, why stick around? Why continue living a miserable life just to avoid upsetting people with your death? Why try to access help to stop feeling this way, if feeling this way is the most reasonable response to your circumstances? This attitude breeds resentment toward those who care about you and an unwillingness to seek out help.

So please, the next time someone tells you how hard or stressful their life is, tell them it gets better. Tell them that with age comes the ability to set limits, the maturity to avoid getting hung up on the little things, the experience to take long to-do lists in stride, and the freedom to make their own decisions. Tell them these things help — they make life more bearable. Do this even if you think the other person is completely fine, because you never know for sure.

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, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world. 

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Thinkstock photo via KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Originally published: September 27, 2017
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