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What to Say to Help Someone After a Suicide Attempt

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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.

It came on suddenly. Suicidal thoughts had been lingering for weeks now, but I had no actual plan to attempt to take my life. Then, just like that, something switched. Nothing in the world mattered. I was slipping into darkness and I was allowing it to take me. I was ready to end my life.

And then, a few hours later, I woke up, with a headache and some rage. But I was alive. I survived, yet again. Part of me was disappointed. This isn’t the first time I have tried to take my life. But a much larger part of me was grateful. I wasn’t really ready to go; I just wanted to stop feeling all my emotions, even for a moment. I didn’t really want to die, as much as I thought I did. I wanted to stop being emotional. I wanted to be numb. I wanted to feel nothing.

It’s been a week now. I’m safe and not planning on harming myself again, and I’m joining a program that will help my mental health. I went public with my attempt, posted about it on Facebook and told my friends; for me, that was a way to stay accountable. I received silence. Friends whom I had just been having conversations with went cold. Nobody had a word to say to me.

I realized that this is a problem. People don’t know how to respond to suicide attempts. This is a problem because after a suicide attempt, all I wanted was support; but my friends and family didn’t know how to do that for me. I’m not sure what it is; an awkward situation, afraid to make things worse? Whatever the reasoning, silence is not the answer.

The easiest thing to say to someone after a suicide attempt is, “I’m glad you’re still here” or, “I love you.” They are the simplest things to say, yet leave such a major impact. Check in on the person if you’re feeling comfortable enough. Ask them if they need any help, or if they want some company. Or simply, act normal. All I wanted was my life to return to normal after my attempt. If one friend came over and watched a movie with me, it would have made a world of a difference.

I get it; knowing someone wanted to die, and recently at that, is an uncomfortable situation. But you have the power to bring comfort back into their life. Talk about it, start a conversation and show how much you care. You could be saving someone just by saying hello.

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 reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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Getty Images photo via AntonioGuillem

Originally published: December 15, 2017
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