Monday, August 11, 2014

How to talk to a suicidal person

Maybe a better title is "how to talk to a suicidal me."  I know this is different for everyone.  And this is a work in progress.
Take care of yourselves <3  

And if I have nothing to say, talk. Keep talking. 
Show me that I am not an irritation or a burden. 
Show me that talking with me is a thing you want to be doing, and not a thing you feel obligated to do. 

Remain calm. Getting angry with me will make it worse. 
Understand that this isn't intentional on my part...I sincerely do not want to feel this way. Validate. 
Understand that reaching out to another person in these desperate moments is very hard. I will feel like an annoyance. Show me that I'm not.

Don't tell me to think of the children. It's not as if I've forgotten about them. It's insulting. 

Don't try to fix my problems. Tell me you will be there to help me while I fix them. If you have legitimate solutions you believe may work for a particular issue, tell me later. In the depths of suicidal ideation, I will merely argue, and tell you why your solutions won't work. I'm not an asshole. I just legitimately can't help it. 

Please don't tell me that "suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem." First, this problem is not temporary. This is a life-long mental illness. I have literally contemplated suicide multiple times a week since I was nine. Second, the idea of a permanent solution to this life-long issue sounds like bliss. I understand the spirit behind such a phrase, but it is both useless and invalidating. And in a suicidal frame of mind, a permanent solution is exactly what I want. 
Talk to me until you are sure I'm safe. Until you hear my voice change back to normal. Until I'm no longer crying. Until I'm able to talk about regular, every day things without steering the conversation back to the glorification of my demise. Please don't let the conversation end until you're sure I am calm and safe. If you're not sure, ask.

 If you love me, tell me. Tell me what you love about me. Talk to me about your favorite memories of us together. Tell me what I'm doing right. Tell me what you'd miss about me. 

Check in. Show me you understand that my problem is real, and not some sort of character flaw that I could fix if I tried hard enough. Knowing someone is thinking of me, and cares what happens to me is huge.

 It's likely that I've hurt myself. Self harm is not at all a functional coping mechanism, and I am aware of this. It is however, the only thing in these moments that helps to alleviate the extreme and reactive feeling inside me. It's ok to ask me. Please ask me. Have you hurt yourself? Is it a deep wound? Has the bleeding stopped? How many cuts? These are neutral questions that express your concern and ensure my immediate safety, without being accusatory or judgmental. I accept and understand that you don't understand. Please do the same for me, because I don't understand it either. 

Check in with each other. Knowing that I have a strong, reliable support system, and that they aren't squeamish about this subject, or me, is helpful. 

Unless we have previously agreed, please do not ask about my medication. "Did you take your pills today" is extremely invalidating. It suggests "you wouldn't feel like this if you'd taken your meds." This is extremely upsetting and will only make it worse. Pills will not "turn it off." If you want to talk about medication, pick a better moment.

I will add to this as needed...

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