When someone close to you reveals that they can’t take it anymore, and want to end their life, it can come as a rude shock, but what you say or do next will make all the difference. That’s why it’s always good to know what to say and what not, so that you don’t end up making the situation a lot more difficult for someone unable to cope up with their suicidal thoughts.
“Why’re you even talking about it? Your life isn’t as bad as you think!”
Suicide is a desperate attempt to end one’s suffering. So when you tell someone who’s suicidal that their life isn’t that bad, you’re ignoring the pain that lies below the surface. It can make them shut you out, or worse make them feel that not even their close ones understand them.
“What about us? How do you think we would feel?”
For someone who’s feeling suicidal, the pain that they carry is already too much, and by telling them how bad you’ll feel, you’re not helping at all, in fact, you’re going to end up making them feel a lot more guilty.
“Only cowards do that! You’re better than this.”
Everyone fears death. When you say something like that, it just does not make any sense, and you unintentionally end up shaming someone who’s finding it tough to bear their anguish.
“There’s so much more to life.”
Sure, you may think that by reminding someone how grand life can be, you might bring back hope and maybe even joy into their life momentarily. But if someone is contemplating suicide they’ve already reached a state where they think there’s not much to live for, and when you say that life holds endless possibilities for them, it just seems like a big lie at that moment.
“There are people with problems a lot worse than you.”
There’s truth in the above statement, but one should always know that people who’ve tried to kill themselves have felt broken in the past and think that they’re unfixable. They get this idea by comparing themselves to others whose lives seem normal. Now, by comparing them to people who probably haven’t even faced the same feeling of despair, you might just worsen the feeling of self-loathing.
“Come on; you don’t really want to die, do you?”
Just by saying you’re showing indifference to the desperate plea for help. Not only does it make them feel that you’re not understanding their pain, but also, it reminds them that you’re not taking them seriously.
“This is no reason for suicide. Things could’ve been a lot more difficult you know?”
Again, even if there are a lot of good things happening in the lives of people who think of killing themselves, or even if their lives seem completely normal, there’s a lot more than you could fathom due to your limited perspective on their pains and struggles. So never tell them how it could’ve been a lot worse.
Reading all this might have made you think, “So what’s the right thing to say then?” We would suggest before you say anything just listen to the person being suicidal spill out why they thought of ending their lives. Once you’re fairly confident that you understand the situation they’re in, you could say something that denotes that you care for them and that you’re with them. You can start off by saying something sincere or even something as simple as, “I’m here for you. So now please tell me, how can I help you?”. But if you ever think that despite your best efforts, you’re not able to help someone who’s being suicidal, you can still support them by putting them in touch with a professional counselor.