By Asma Naim
“ I want to kill myself. There is no HOPE ”
Those five words are a shock to hear, a dreadful pronouncement from a friend or family member who thinks that there is no hope. You recoil at the thought. How could they want to die? As unwelcome as those words are to your ears, your loved one has handed you a gift. He or she is letting you in. By telling you they want to die, they are giving you the opportunity to help. What you say next is very important. It could lead to your friend or family member letting you in even more – or shutting the door. It can be helpful to ask some of the most important words of all, “How can I help?”
Best advice is: Be quiet and listen!
People who feel suicidal don’t want answers or solutions. They want a safe place to express their fears and anxieties, to be themselves. They just seek:
Someone to listen. Someone who will take time to really listen to them. Someone who won’t judge, or give advice or opinions, but will give their undivided attention.
Someone to trust. Someone who will respect them and won’t try to take charge. Someone who will treat everything in complete confidence.
Someone to care. Someone who will make themselves available, put the person at ease and speak calmly. Someone who will reassure, accept and believe. Someone who will say, “I care.”
People who feel suicidal do NOT want:
To be alone. Rejection can make the problem seem ten times worse. Having someone to turn to makes all the difference. Just listen.
To be advised. Lectures don’t help. Nor does a suggestion to “cheer up”, or an easy assurance that “everything will be okay.” Don’t analyze, compare, categorize or criticize. Just listen.
To be interrogated. Don’t change the subject, don’t pity or patronize. Talking about feelings is difficult. People who feel suicidal don’t want to be rushed or put on the defensive. Just listen.
Your reaction may mean the difference between the person feeling judged and even more alone – or accepted and understood. Be careful!
“ Challenge to Change, is an initiative aimed at raising awareness about mental health for women from the Middle East. It is a platform for dialogue and support, enabling women to share their experiences, strengths and hope while being supported by mental health professionals. Through raising awareness and taking on the stigma, Challenge to Change has created safe communication channels and support groups with the objective of providing effective and lasting solutions.
Challenge to Change is THE voice for mental wellness for women from the Middle East.”