It is important to talk about suicide, in order to prevent it. Deaths by suicide, such as the ones of chef Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade are tragic reminders that mental health issues are still very much a subject that we need to bring to the forefront.
A new study published in America found that suicide rates are rising and have increased by more than 25 per cent since 1999. Suicide can be a dark and uncomfortable conversation to be having. Here are the best practices and some advice to make sure you, and others, are talking about suicide in the most helpful way possible.
Talk about suicide, as you would any other health condition
Suicide is a mental health disease, and needs to be a part of our daily conversation. Suicide is the leading death among men in the United Kingdom. This alone is a statistic that won’t go away until we start talking about it. In order to demystify it is pivotal that we share suicidal thoughts, what are they and how to combat them. “Stigma around suicide is bred from silence,” Shairi Turner, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer of Crisis Text Line, told Teen Vogue. “When we avoid conversations about tough stuff, it can come off as if the topic is bad or taboo. Suicide isn’t a bad word.”
Accept that you will feel uncomfortable
An important conversation cannot be left unsaid for the sake of being deemed too “difficult”. We can’t normalise it so accept the discomfort and understand that talking could save lives. Causes of suicidal thoughts can be anxiety, depression, an eating disorder and substance abuse. If you believe someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, talk to them, in a calm and non-judgemental way.
Understand what not to do
Sharing the specific details of a suicide might be triggering for others, so keep in mind that we shouldn’t contribute to speculation or discussion of harmful details. Instead, focus on providing people with mental health resources. When talking about it, refrain from blaming the victim. Not only doesn’t it change the situation but makes it harder for friends and family. It is natural to try and pinpoint one cause of something but in reality, with regards to suicide, the reality is there is no one thing that can cause it.
Keep a discerning tone
Always keep a non-judgemental tone when talking about suicide because you never know who is having suicidal thoughts. When posting on social media you can reach out and share mental health resources. Unsurprisingly, if someone is having suicidal ideation, they won’t seek help if they come across judgemental comments about someone’s death.
Most of us don’t have the proper knowledge of how to treat someone with a mental illness. This is why we need to make sure everyone is aware of the appropriate resources. Messaging a friend asking them to go for a walk or for a coffee could be a great way to connect and let a friend know you are available for a chat.
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