“Suicide sometimes proceeds from cowardice, but not always; for cowardice sometimes prevents it; since as many live because they are afraid to die, as die because they are afraid to live.” – Charles Caleb Colton
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a person dies by suicide about every 14 minutes in the United States. Just recently a famous country music star Mindy McCready shot and killed herself days after posting a video on suicide prevention to fans. Suicide isn’t an easy topic to discuss and especially in our society, a very isolated topic of discussion.
Often times when people hear of someone attempting or committing suicide, they are at a loss for words. Our minds enter a slight state of shock processing how could someone possibly want to take their own life. We don’t really know what to say or fear that we may say the wrong thing.
I know because it happened to me. My mother has suffered with clinical depression and schizophrenia for as long as I can remember. In the past 6 months she has attempted suicide twice, first time by overdose and the second by razor and recently almost succeeded.
I have shared this story with some people and usually the responses are the same, “Wow. I’m so sorry, I don’t know what to say, I’m at a loss for words.” It’s something I’ve decided to share openly today because in a sense not only do I want to honor my mother but I want to bring awareness to such a sensitive topic.
Being the loved one of someone who has a mental illness and has been committed several times for suicide is difficult to say the least. There are moments when I don’t even know what to say or process how I’m feeling. I have to experience my emotions in bits and pieces at times because it’s so intense.
Sometimes people assume that once someone is on medication that they instantly are better. Medication is not like a magic pill that fixes someone instantly. It takes time and proper treatment for people with psychiatric illnesses to show improvement.
Tips on how to help your loved one:
1. Show Love & Support
2. Show kindness & be patient
3. Remind them they have a purpose and of their accomplishments
4. Bring them something to cheer them up, i.e. favorite food/item/flower
5. Encourage them to follow up with treatment
It will only take time before you start to see any results with their emotional and mental state.
If you are a friend of someone whose loved one is ill and has attempted suicide, one of the best things you can do is listen and ask how you can help. Sometimes just a conversation can help heal a lot of the pain surrounding the experience.
If you aren’t sure about reaching out to your friends or family about your loved one who has attempted or committed suicide, don’t hesitate any longer. Reach out and build a support system for yourself. Seek therapy if necessary. Go out and bring positive experiences into your life. It will be too easy to fall into a rut and stay emotionally isolated from those around you.
Take one day at a time, be easy on yourself and on your loved one. Be the light for that person and remind them that someone out there cares and loves them and that person is you.