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March 29, 2014

Finding Support During Suicide Season. ~ Jenni Kay Long

Suicide Season

The days are (finally) growing longer and warmer, the crocuses are popping up and coats are being shed.

Spring is upon us and many of us are rejoicing!

And many others of us are grappling with the fact that winter’s grief hasn’t melted alongside the snow. In the dark days of the coldest season, we often come face-to-face with our deepest despairs and secret sufferings. Winter can be a time of great challenge for both body and soul, and, for many, the challenge grows stronger with the arrival of Spring and is often exacerbated by societal pressure to “Be happy now, spring is here!”

The ironic reality is that just when the crocuses begin appearing, people begin disappearing—and attempting to disappear. The weeks that mark the transition from winter to spring have become “Suicide Season,” a period that is not often spoken of yet is so acutely felt on pillows stained with silent tears.

If a friend is seriously considering suicide, let them know that they do not have to walk the journey of suffering alone.

Things to say to those who are thinking of disappearing:

The decision to die or live is yours alone and you are the only one who has the right to choose your next step. Whatever has brought you to this point, and however many times you’ve ended up here, know that there is someone who would love to hear your story, hold your hand, and cry with you before you make any final decisions.

If no person is coming to mind, remember that we haven’t even met all of our best friends, teachers, and guides.

There is someone who loves you more than you could ever imagine and who would so appreciate the opportunity to walk the (sometimes hellish) road of life alongside you. Sometimes these people come to us in the form of friends, lovers, family; other times they come our way in the form of religious leaders, spiritual guides, teachers or as therapists, acupuncturists, and healers.

Sometimes we happen upon these folks, and other times we have to do a bit of leg work. Here are a couple of resources to help you find who you might be looking for:

Psychology Today

Mental Health America

• or chat online with a mental health professional here 

Sometimes when we are feeling terribly horrible, we need someone right now and don’t have the time to go through the process of finding just the right someone. If that’s where you are currently at, you could call this number: 1-800-273-TALK. The folks on the other end have chosen to be there for you at just such a moment. They want nothing more than to listen to your story—tears and all.

The point is, whatever you choose to do with your life, you don’t have to go it alone. If you want company, loving and unconditional support is there for you!

Resources for friends and family of those who’d like to not be here anymore

It can be challenging to know how best to support someone you love who is considering suicide. First of all, be gentle with yourself and remember that a few deep breaths can go a long way. It is important to take care of yourself as you actively love the people around you.

There are some very unhelpful things that people (unknowingly) tend to say when a friend is expressing thoughts about suicide, such as:

“You have so much to live for!”

“How could you do this to me!”

“Think of your kids!”

These statements are (most often unintentionally) shaming and irrelevant.

A friend’s feelings are not for you to take personally—they are a reflection of their own internal experience of suffering. And they have chosen, with great courage, to tell you a little bit about what is going on for them. Instead of telling them “what they have to live for” it is much more loving to ask them what their life is like.

That could sound something like:

“Thank you for sharing, do you want to talk about it some more?”

“How long have you been feeling this way?”

“Would you like to describe your feelings to me? I’d love to listen and learn more about what you are experiencing.”

If your friend is in danger, know that you can reach out for support. Here are a couple of numbers that you can call:

• 1-800-SUICIDE

• 1-800-273-TALK

Most importantly, remember that your friend is having a really hard time and what they need most is empathy.

A bit about that word empathy:

Om Shanti. Wherever you are and no matter your history, current experience, or future:

Om Shanti.

 

Relephant:

Healing a Suicide Attempt: My Life After.

What I Wish Her to Know About Suicide.

 

 

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Editorial Assistant: Hannah Harris / Editor: Renee Picard

Photo: Courtesy of the Author

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Jenni Kay Long