So how do you tell someone you are suicidal? Who do you tell? Oh no, you can’t choose them… Or you can’t tell them that… This post should answer some of your questions about telling someone about your suicidal thoughts, or intent to commit suicide, based on my own experiences and the experiences of other that I have heard about.
Firstly, should I tell someone?
The short answer is yes. All health professionals would agree that sharing your feelings and thoughts will help you. When you get your feelings out it will be easier to receive help but it will also feel less of a burden. When I first told my friend I did not get the reaction I was expecting, but it still made me feel better and realise suicide is not my only option.
Who should I talk to?
The important thing is that you feel comfortable to explain as much as you need. The person you tell should be someone you trust, someone who you know will do what you tell them to (such as not tell anyone). If you tell someone in your close friendship or work group it has the possibility of making things uncomfortable. I chose someone who I don’t see everyday (we do text often though) as I didn’t want to be around them all the time, if I miss them for a day I don’t want them worried. On the other hand, if you tell someone you are close to they will be there for you more often, meaning they can help more. If you are at school and tell a teacher or adult, they will have to get other people involved.
What or how much should I tell them?
As much as you are comfortable with saying. The truth is the best. If you have a plan and need help, make sure you tell them. You are unlikely to get help if you do not ask for it. They may ask how they can help, and if you don’t know then say that. Tell them that them listening is help. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know certain things such as why you feel the way you do.
What will they ask me
This depends on the person, they may not ask some of the things I list below but they may ask some of them.
– Why do you feel like this?
– How can I help?
– Have you attempted anything before?
– Do you have any plans?
– Who else knows about your thoughts?
How will they react?
That depends on who you tell. Firstly know that telling a non-professional means you are unlikely to get the response you expect, although it will still help. Imagine if your friend told you that they were thinking of suicide. Imagine how you would react. Whoever you tell will be shocked, they wont know what to say. There will probably be long moments of silence, but that is because they will have to process what you are saying, it is not easy finding out that someone you love wants to kill themselves. Don’t expect tears (people don’t cry when I tell them, strange?) but don’t be surprised if they come. If you tell them that you have a plan (or they are worried) they will possibly tell someone else such as a friend or professional, but if this happens do not worry as you may need the help. Only say as much as you want to.
Can I talk to a helpline instead?
Yes, of course! I talked to a helpline before I talked to my friend, and many people will talk to helplines without talking to someone they know. Helplines can be a great way to relieve any worries without dealing with as much emotion as telling someone you love. Personally, I recommend you do choose to talk to someone you know at some point as helplines as useful but cannot provide the emotional support of someone you know (I suffer from depression, and I find emotional support is very important for me). You can find some helplines for your country by clicking here.
I’ve told them, now what?
Give them some time to think it over. You will know that having suicidal thoughts is hard to deal with, but knowing someone else has suicidal thoughts is also hard. If they do not approach you for the rest of the day, that is fine. Talk to them the next day and ask if they have any questions for you, and assure them that you are alright. I can’t give great advice on this as every situation will be unique. But well done for telling someone!