10th of September was World Suicide Prevention Day and we at FindMeCure had a lot of feelings about it. Aside from all the handy info we try to provide you with about clinical trials, we also want you to consider your general health – your mental health as well as your physical. We have already written so much on depression, but depression is not the only mental health issue that can lead to suicide. Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, severe anxiety can all have a lethal ending and according to WHO (World Health Organisation) every 40 seconds 1 person commits suicide somewhere in the world.

What really scares me personally is that there is no statistics about how many people contemplate or have seriously thought about taking their own lives. You can see someone quite often and they can seem okay but unless they decide to let you in on what is going on in their mind and their heart, you can never know.

Find clinical trials for suicidal prevention

Suicide is a painful topic for me, since one of my closest friends took her own life some years ago. It must be one of the hardest deaths to grieve because you keep thinking to yourself that you could have done something to prevent it. And while that could be true in some cases, the burden of responsibility is too much for one person. There are people who regularly go to therapy and take meds for their condition, who nevertheless commit suicide, so it’s very hard to predict whether you can actually help in any given situation. That being said, I think we should at least try. And if I must be honest here – I believe it’s 50% what you do for a person and 50% what they do for themselves. So, in order to help someone, they should want help in the first place and take that help when it’s offered. Which can be hard in a culture that teaches us we should be self-sufficient and rarely, if ever, ask for help – God forbid we look weak, pathetic, needy, or be a burden to others.

But here’s the deal – other people don’t feel burdened by our asking for help. We all need to feel needed as much as we need being taken care of sometimes and there’s nothing pathetic about it. Once you allow yourself to be vulnerable with another person, you feel freed from all that pressure to always have it together and be constantly strong and brave, and unwavering – you might even be surprised at the closeness and trust such vulnerability can create in your relationships with others. And sometimes reaching out to someone else can mean opening up about your own insecurities and fears.

Since the theme of WSPD this year is “Take a minute, change a life”, we at FMC would like to encourage you to reach out to others in an open and honest way by sharing your story and non-judgementally listening to theirs. Don’t be afraid to get too personal with others, thinking it’s “none of your business” or you have no place asking “inappropriate” questions, or someone else, who is closer to them, can deal much better. When my friend died, after I stopped beating myself up over not being able to prevent her suicide, I realised that even though I couldn’t help her, there are still many people out there in need of emotional support in desperate situations – and a lot of these people are right here, already in my life.

I’m not going to pretend as if I (or you) can single-handedly “save” someone. Some time ago I finally came to the understanding that we can’t save people and neither should we. What we can do, however, is just be there for them and let them in turn be there for us. One of the most prominent feelings in suicidal people is the feeling of loneliness. The belief that nobody cares or at least nobody has the dedication to do something, to intervene in some way, to offer help or support. But that feeling of being all alone is in fact surprisingly easy to cure – you don’t have to have a Psychology degree, you don’t have to say all the right things or be a knight in shining armour in any way. You just have to listen, try and understand, share your own dark moments which can be hard to admit, or simply just offer the comfort of a literal shoulder to cry on and hold them while they sob incomprehensively.

Suicide risk assessment must be left to the experts, so if you are concerned about a friend or a family member, refer them to someone better equipped at estimating the risks or talk to a mental health professional yourself and describe the situation. Keep in mind that any unusual behaviour which can be interpreted as “putting affairs in order” or saying goodbyes is indicative of a suicide intent that needs to be taken very seriously. Expressing feelings of hopelessness is also an indicator and when such a thing occurs you have all the reason needed to not keep to your own business and instead take an interested in theirs.

To help people with suicidal thoughts, all of us can do something else as well: Stop pretending that depression and mental health issues are something to be ashamed of or something that must stay hidden. We believe it should be spoken out.  This is why we started a campaign to give a voice to the silent fighters of depression. Read their stories in this beautiful and honest e-book: THE DEPRESSION JOURNAL


Article by Nelly Katsarova

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