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During a period of depression, despite your best efforts, you may have thoughts of hurting yourself or ending your life. When our mood becomes depressed, it has the effect of bringing us into a “depression loop” where thoughts become less flexible, more catastrophic, and we go around this loop looking for an exit. Your mind will tell you there is no other way out, but it is deceiving you. Don’t let it push you around!
In my 35 years of practice, everyone who has shared the pain of having suicidal thoughts said that he/she did not really want to be dead, but just wanted the emotional pain to stop.
Let your life force guide you through this time. The part of you that is telling you to hurt yourself doesn’t really consider that you are a WHOLE person who is so much more than the pain of this current moment. Your mind is giving you very bad advice right now. Don’t take it! This moment will pass as do all tough times.
Many good people have put their best efforts into creating a web site where you will feel safe. You can visit: www.suicidal.com.
Tell a caring person such as a trusted friend, or your therapist , if you have one, exactly how you are feeling. This may be scary, and you may be afraid of how this person may react. DO IT ANYWAY! Here are some confidential hotlines where you can talk or chat via the internet ANONYMOUSLY:
If you are one of my clients, you know you can call me any time, 24/7, and we will talk and try to understand the source of this pain - thoughts such as “ I am a failure” “I cannot stand the pain any longer” “Life will never get any better” “I will never find another person to love me.”
I will find someone to help keep you safe if you are alone.
I will try to help you accept the pain of the moment and make some space for it until it passes.
I will discuss if possibly your medication needs to be reevaluated.
I will listen without being critical or judgmental.
I will stay on the phone with you until you feel safe.
I will arrange to see you ASAP.
WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER!
Remember…even the most well adjusted person may lose sight of the big picture in life. YOU ARE NOT GOING CRAZY, just temporarily losing your perspective. I want to help you ride out the pain and plan for a better tomorrow. Believe me, some day you will be glad to be alive.
NOTE: The best book on this subject for mental health professionals is: “Suicide and Psychological Pain: PreventionThat Works”, by Jack Klott, published in 2012
There is nothing so scary for the average person than to have someone they know and care about disclose suicidal thoughts or feelings. Many people don’t know what to say, or are fearful of saying the wrong thing. Just remember…the person who discloses such a deep part of themselves to you must really trust you. Feel honored for that!
A willingness to listen without judgment, interruption, or giving advice is ALWAYS the best medicine in this situation, and conveys your love and your caring. Listening non-judgmentally reflects a deep human bond that deserves to be treated with much respect. We realize as we grow into adulthood just how difficult it can be at times to find a good listener, and what a priceless treasure a good listener can be to a person in crisis.
As you listen, you may realize that you have stepped into a situation that was much deeper than you thought and feel overwhelmed. You MUST tell someone in order to protect your friend, and you can keep no “secrets” when it comes to suicide. You may choose to tell an adult at the risk of incurring your friend’s anger. In doing so, you perform a life-saving act.
Dr. Russ Harris, author of “The Happiness Trap”, has very generously made a wide variety of his therapeutic worksheets available online. Please visit: https://thehappinesstrap.com/upimages/The_Complete_Happiness_Trap_Worksheets.pdf.
Once there, scroll to the worksheet “What to Do In A Crisis”. This is life-affirming information, so please take your time in reading it
To those who suffer in silence with thoughts of suicide - may you know that caring people really are out there if you can reach out to find them. In sharing your feelings, there is no “right way” to do it, only the hope that the darkness will fade and you will be able to enjoy the light once again. Maybe your fears can be replaced by thoughtful action. And when you become strong again, maybe you will have the opportunity to become the source of comfort and support for someone else.
Please read the following story, author unknown to the best of my knowledge. It makes the point that all those who listen to another human being in crisis may one day see that person change the world.
To find the Beautiful Story, go to Google's search bar and type in its first line, which is: "One day, when I was a freshman in high school."
© Copyright 2009 by Anthony Pantaleno, Ph.D.