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10 Things to Say to Someone Who Recently Attempted Suicide

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After my own suicide attempt, I quickly realized few people really know what to say to a loved one who recently attempted suicide. Here are some of the good things I heard, as well as some things I wish I’d heard.

1. “I love you.”

These three words mean the world to someone who just felt so hopeless, so alone, so unloved, they wanted to die. After surviving a suicide attempt, it’s not uncommon to feel unlovable. Remind them that’s not true.

2. “I’m sorry it got to this point.”

No one actually wants to be suicidal. No one wants to have suicidal thoughts. No one wants to be depressed. People who are suicidal often feel a lot of shame and guilt about having suicidal thoughts or tendencies. They didn’t ask for this. Show them you realize this. Remind them what they’re feeling isn’t their fault, and that no one deserves to feel like that.

3. “I believe in you.”

Recovering after a suicide attempt is a daunting task. Having someone who supports you and believes in you is huge.

4. “Whatever you’re feeling right now is OK.”

Everyone is different. We all cope and process differently. It’s a process. It won’t get better right away. Remind them that’s OK.

5. “Take care of yourself.”

Immediately following a suicide attempt, survival is everything. Whatever they need to keep going is OK. Remind them they’re not being selfish, that taking care of themselves is the right thing to do.

6. “You’re not alone.”

Having someone by your side you can call or text anytime to talk to can truly mean everything. Be that person who’s there for them. Remind them they’re never alone.

7. “I’m here for you.”

Again, having that support means so much. Make sure they know they always have someone they can talk to who won’t be judgmental or harsh, and is there for them no matter what.

8. “It’s OK.”

When it comes to recovering after making a suicide attempt, everything can feel completely upside down. Remind them it’s OK to not be OK. That this too shall pass.

9. “Would you like to ____?”

Your loved one might need an extra push to get out of the house. If it seems like they just want to sit around watching time go by, ask them if they’d like to join you on a walk. If they aren’t eating much, invite them out to lunch. When they’re ready, get them out and doing something.

10. “You are needed.” 

Depression makes people think and feel like they’re a waste of oxygen. Remind them of their positive qualities. Remind them they’re capable of amazing things. Remind them they aren’t worthless.

Basically, just be a friend. People who attempt suicide are human, too, and they’re no different than anyone else. Having a friend who understands that can be everything.

Originally published: May 3, 2016
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