The second post in this series on suicide.

If you notice changes in a person’s behavior, you need to find a way of connecting with that individual. Make contact and show your friend or colleague that you understand what he or she is saying. Show that you feel his/her pain and understand that it is real. It is a good idea to listen, really listen. You probably don’t have any answers but by being there, the person suffering from severe depression, feels that you care and that alone, is so very important. Most people are either afraid to get too close to a person  with a mental illness, or do not have the necessary patience to listen.

It is not a good idea to give advice if you are not a professional. giving support should be sufficient as well as trying to understand what he/she is feeling. If the individual says; ‘I don’t know what to do any longer; I’m down to my last cent, or down to my last bit of strength,’ you could say; ‘ It must be so difficult to deal with this situation. You probably feel that you have tried everyting but remain in the same spot, right?’ He/she might say; ‘Nobody cares a damn about me.’ So, you can say gently; ‘Please remember that you are not alone. I am here for you and I am really worried about you and care about you. Maybe we can contact a relative or call your therapist. If your friend refuses to do this, it might be time to step in and contact a family member.

Suicidal thoughts must not be kept secret. If you think of the consequences you will know what has to be done.

The ill person needs a glimmer of hope. We all need hope in our lives. I’m not sure how anyone can continue without any hope at all.

Beware of talk like, I have no reason to live, I am a burden to my parents, I am in so much pain, I feel trapped as they are all after me.

This person might investigate where to purchase a gun. He/she might start drinking alcohol or using drugs. He/she might withdraw from previously enjoyed activities, act recklessly, might stop sleeping altogether and pace or go walking all night OR, might even sleep the days away. He/she might start giving away possessions that were previously loved and cherished; might suffer from panic attacks and in desperation, might call friends and relatives to say goodbye.

If you so much as suspect that someone is thinking of ending his/her life, it is advisable not to leave that person alone.  But there is  no way that one can be with anyone 24 hours a day.  Call the mental health hotline to find out who to call and how to handle the situation. In an emergency, call 911.

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