Now that I say that, if you are contemplating suicide right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, get ahold of Crisis Text Line by texting START to 741741, or, if you are LGBTQ, call Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386. These are all incredible resources that can help you.
In this post, let’s talk a little bit about how you can talk about your own suicidal thoughts, or what we call suicidal ideation. The first thing to realize is that suicidal thoughts are not normal. THEY ARE NOT NORMAL! I fell into the trap of believing that his kind of thinking was just the way everyone was. It’s not. It is not natural to want to harm yourself. So, you need to understand that this is a problem and you need to get help. And a major part of getting help is talking about what you are feeling and thinking.
Second, actually go to people and talk about it. If you begin to have suicidal thoughts, or have struggled with them in the past, it is important that you let your loved ones know. This is incredibly difficult and you may be the one counseling them, letting them know it is not your fault. However, it is important that the people closest to you know the difficulties that you are going through and that they know that they can be a listening ear. They are not counselors, but they can show you love and kindness and be a resource for simply surviving.
As a caveat, sometimes loved ones do not want to believe that you are struggling with suicidal thoughts. This is normal. However, it is imperative that you get them to understand that you are struggling, even if they do not understand how or why that is possible. One way to do such is to make a connection that this is a disease and that, while they cannot understand what it is to live diabetes so they cannot understand what it is to live with suicidal ideation. Similarly, make a point of connection with a celebrity. In the past, I have mentioned that I knew how Robin Williams felt, or at least what pushed him to do what he did.
Fourth, find safe spaces to discuss what you are going through. This would be outside of your counseling and your discussion with friends and family. Some of the safe spaces might include a support group (like Here/Hear Groups) that can act as a place where people can put their thoughts “out there” and be willing to share. There are also online places that provide space for discussing suicidal ideation and then being productive for helping overcome that thought process. The key, though, is to find places that are encouraging and positive instead of places that simply allow people to magnify their despair. Find places trying to push hope and overcoming such thoughts.
Fifth, develop a plan of action group. We’ll talk about this more in a later post, but it is important to develop a plan of action. This would include talking to your family and friends, as well as your counselor, about what needs to be done in the event that you feel you must act on your suicidal thoughts.
In all, discussing your suicidal thoughts will only bring you help. Find the right people and the right spaces to discuss them and you will be able to at least deal with the fact that it is not normal and you can begin to construct ways of dealing with such thoughts. This is a net positive, even if it makes the people around you uncomfortable. Eventually, though, people who love you will be there for you as you have such thoughts and deal with overcoming them….or, at least, living a productive life while still having them.