Roughly four percent of the US population has contemplated suicide in 2015, and suicide rates have been increasing significantly in recent years. Perhaps, now more than ever, it’s important to know what to do to get help for suicidal thinking – and it’s important to learn to address that it’s more common than ever.
We feel a lot of pain throughout our lifetimes, and some of us experience far more of it than others. It’s a normal human reaction to feel pain. As much as it is terrible, pain is a sense by which we can gauge the terribleness of an experience, judging whether we should go through something like that again. Pain is a tool, a deterrent, a reminder that we once had a bad idea, or went through something we want to indefinitely avoid.
But some pain can’t be avoided. Other pain is so terrible that you wake up to it time and time again, even when no source is to be found, both emotionally and physically. Trauma and chronic pain are senseless and can drive a person to seek a peace beyond what life has to offer.
Sometimes the pain is more of a dull kind, like the thoughts that haunt people while they struggle with depression. Sometimes, pain leads to depression. For them, suicide is a way to escape constant self-deprecation, a lack of self-esteem, and a life that, under the influence of depression, doesn’t seem worth living. Regardless of how the ideas start, pain, in one way or another, is at the root of it all. So, what helps when the pain doesn’t seem to go away?
What to Do in an Emergency
It’s almost common knowledge for some, but it’s always worth repeating: all 29 people who survived attempted suicide by jumping off the San Francisco bridge regretted their decision. Suicidal ideation is the path towards committing suicide, but for those who lived to tell about what they had done, the realization that this was a bad idea always comes too late.
During moments of suicidal ideation, most people can’t think straight. It becomes hard to rationalize and think of a happier or better future when steeped in pain or hopelessness. The thought that things get better isn’t believable in moments like that. But it’s the truth. To get a person to live to see that truth, it’s important to get help fast. In cases of an emergency, the first step is always to:
- Call 911, or your equivalent emergency service. This is especially warranted if you’ve attempted and just survived suicide or have hurt yourself significantly in an attempt and need help.
- Call a friend and ask them to get you to an emergency room if you’re not in any present danger and haven’t been hurt but have attempted or have come seriously close to attempting suicide.
- Call your therapist, or if you don’t have one, call a crisis counselor at the:
The Importance of Getting Help
Suicidal thoughts are more common than most would expect, but that doesn’t mean help isn’t warranted. On the contrary – it’s meant to demonstrate that help isn’t something reserved only for those struggling with the worst of woes, but help is there for everyone who needs it. And most people need help, at one point or another, for one reason or another. In some cases, people who struggle with suicidal thoughts may not think it’s “serious enough” because they haven’t gone through with it yet, or they might feel like it’s shameful to admit that they’ve considered suicide.
Because it is a sometimes still a societal taboo, suicide is still something people don’t talk about often enough. Aside from religious and cultural issues, there is a misconception that discussing suicide promotes it, or that talking about it is more likely to get someone to consider committing suicide. This has become especially problematic within the tech industry, where certain censor programs – such as those implemented for children to avoid viewing age-restricted content – keeps kids from finding information that might help them get in touch with an adult if they’ve been abused or are considering suicide.
We need to make it easier for people to get help – and that means spending time talking about the issue. As many as 16 million American adults are struggling with at least one major depressive episode per year, a condition that can include suicidal ideation and lead to attempted suicide and self-harm.
Help does help. Rapid intervention is essential because people who attempt suicide are often in such overwhelming pain emotionally and/or physically that the only fathomable option is to end life altogether. However, that sort of condition is very rarely persistent, and the thoughts do go away with the right treatment. Sometimes, a call is all that’s needed to stop someone from making that final decision to end it all – and that can lead to getting professional help, and making the feeling go away over time.
Sadly, there are no studies that rigorously test the theory of how suicide hotlines can save lives. But there are studies that attempt to see if today’s first line treatment methods for conditions like anxiety and depression – overwhelmingly common mental health problems that are connected to suicidal ideation – are effective. And the research shows that they are. Therapy, antidepressants, alternative treatments like TMS and residential help can change a person’s life and help them get to better days they’d never thought they would see again.
Every Suicide Starts with a Thought
It’s not a good idea to wait until things get worse. Even if you haven’t really taken your thoughts “seriously”, considering suicide is a very important sign that something is going wrong. Talk to your family or get professional help, and consider asking yourself if any of your other thoughts recently have felt “off” or increasingly negative.