13 Ways To Prevent Suicide
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1 million people commit suicide every year across the world. In Canada, where I live, that figure is about 4,000 annually. These numbers are tragic, because they are not really numbers at all. They represent the precious lives of human beings, people with names and faces and stories—not to mention the countless friends and family who are affected by their deaths.
My desire is for people to live. Not just to be alive, but to truly live. For that to happen though, some people simply need the end of a rope to cling to when all hope seems lost. To that end I offer these 13 suggestions for preventing suicide.
Remember that there is always hope. The darkness may seem insurmountable, but it is only there for a season. Every suicidal thought has an expiration date. Don’t give up! Better days really do lie ahead.
If you are someone who is feeling suicidal…
- Call an emergency hotline if you are in immediate danger. Try the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). For a list of other hotlines worldwide, click here.
- Tell someone if you are having thoughts of suicide. It can be a friend, parent, sibling, mentor, doctor, teacher, coach, counsellor, pastor…anyone who will listen and take you seriously.
- Seek out medical advice if you are dealing with severe depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. Your physician can help you get what you need to cope.
- Avoid isolation. Negative thoughts have their greatest power when you are alone. Try to be around people in general, but especially those who love you and are supportive of you.
- Deal with any trauma that might be a major cause of your negative thinking. Talk to a counsellor who can help you begin to sort things out and get your life back on track. The death of a loved one, experiencing abuse, a family divorce…find someone to help you work through whatever you may be dealing with.
- Pray and/or keep a journal. If you believe in God, use prayer as an outlet for your thoughts and emotions. If not, try using a journal to dump out everything negative in your mind. Like a soda that’s been shaken, emotions that are bottled up become explosive.
- Get physically healthy. Physical health and mental health are not the same, but they can be strongly related. Exercise, get some sleep, and eat well.
- Keep a “board of gratitude”. Write on sticky notes everything you are thankful for and put it up on the wall. It could be small things like a funny joke you heard, a smile from a passing stranger, or a warm bed to sleep in. Try to put up at least one new thing every day.
- Be careful what you watch, read, and listen to. Music and movies can be powerful things. They can sway our thoughts and emotions for better or worse, so choose to consume only that which will build you up and inspire you. Try reading biographies of great people from history past or present.
- Go outside. Nature has a way of reviving the soul. Try to spend some time outside every day. Go for a walk, swim, gaze at the stars, or even just take one big breath of fresh air.
If you know someone who is feeling suicidal…
- Know the signs. You can click here to learn more or refer to the chart below.
- Be a supportive friend to those who are hurting. A comforting presence is sometimes the difference between hope and no hope. Listen and be available. Stick up for the victim when you see someone being bullied.
- Challenge negative assumptions. Someone who is suicidal believes things that simply aren’t true: I’m alone, I’m worthless, I’m ugly, I’m not worth anyone’s time, people would be better off without me, there’s no hope for me. Part of being a helpful friend is to identify those negative assumptions and challenge them with the truth. Show your friend why what they believe is wrong, but do it gently and not argumentatively.
Suicide isn’t the only option. Together we can find a better way.
This article is part of a series of posts on the Netflix hit show 13 Reasons Why. You can read the other entries by clicking below.