The recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain were extremely upsetting. To think that both of these people had successful careers, families and a lot of money which would allow them access to the best medical care possible is distressing. However, it goes to show you that mental illnesses are not selective – it doesn’t matter who you are or what you have. These tragedies made me reach out to the people in my life that are struggling and check in with them, which is something I tend to do very often anyway.
You will never regret checking in on someone, but you could regret not letting someone know that you care for the rest of your life.
Despite mental illness being so common, it’s something that is rarely discussed for a variety of reasons. One of these oppressive reasons is the belief that admitting mental illness is “attention seeking” – this could not be further from the truth. The majority of people keep their illness completely secret for fear of judgement which leads to isolation. And if you know someone who has confided in you about the difficulties they face do not belittle anything they say, even though it may be hard for you to sympathise do not shrug off if they say they need help.
It is so much more likely that someone will minimise the severity of their illness, rather than exaggerate their feelings. As a result of how secretive this illness is, it can be hard to tell if someone is seriously ill and is at risk of suicide (not everyone with mental illness is suicidal, but it is better to be safe than sorry). Below are some actions that should raise alarm bells, if you recognise any of these in people you know, reach out to them and if required – get them help:
WARNING SIGNS OF SUICIDAL THOUGHTS:
- Increased substance abuse
- Extreme mood swings
- Calling themselves a “burden”
- Engaging in reckless behaviour
- Describing their situation like “feeling trapped” or “unbearable” or “hopeless”
- Joking about dying or killing themselves
- Sleeping too little or too much
You may have a friend in your life that you are slightly concerned about, and I ask you, if you have any inclination that they may be going through a hard time reach out to them. Letting someone know that you care and that you want to provide support for them is invaluable. A few people in my life are dealing with depression, that have only confided in me because I have brought it up to them, and they have all said that talking about it has really benefited them. But being emotionally vulnerable with someone is scary and if you make the first move for them, it will remove any anxiety of how to bring it up and of the reaction they might receive.
Twitter and Instagram was swarmed with posts captioned with the suicide hotline and while that is helpful to an extent, what would be more beneficial would be to ask your friend, who is distancing herself, out for a coffee so you can ask her if she’s okay. Raising awareness over the internet of how to get help is very important, but at the same time, you need to acknowledge that acting as a good friend to someone in need is much more meaningful than redirecting them. Always keep an eye out for your friends.
SUICIDE DOESN’T END THE PAIN, IT JUST PASSES IT ONTO SOMEONE ELSE