Threatening to commit suicide is a serious thing. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that one person commits suicide every 40 seconds or about a million each year. Here’s how you can help a loved one who is struggling.
Reserve Your Judgement. The last thing a depressed woman needs is for you to sprinkle your snarky comments generously. You can’t really make a judgement until you have lived in someone else’s shoes. Oftentimes, suicide comes out of nowhere. Even success and money don’t guarantee that a depressed individual won’t kill himself or herself anymore. There are a lot of successful personalities who have taken their lives and whom we would think that they had the world at their feet, but who had been dealing with depression leading to suicide.
Seek professional help. If you are not a licensed counselor, you have to seek help right away. There are women’s depression centers around the US which can intervene. At the very least, call a suicide hotline and ask for suggestions on how to deal with the problem at the outset.
Ensure a safe environment. This means you take away the triggers like alcohol, drugs, and weapons. If their home is too stressful, consider bringing your friend or loved one to a neutral space, preferably far away from home. Perhaps a change of scenery will help.
Never panic. It’s going to be hard but you will be the anchor by which the patient will draw strength from. Don’t be hysterical even if the news may shock you. Keep a level head and don’t even force the person to talk. Just listen and be present in the moment.
Don’t impose your religious beliefs and morality. It’s easy to argue that committing suicide is a sin. Didn’t the Bible say so? If your friend does not share your faith, however, pushing your concept of morality may only make them feel worse.
Never be complicit to the act. Your friend may tell you to keep the suicide attempt a secret, but you have to make her understand that it’s the wrong course of action. It’s understandable because there’s a certain stigma involved, but a life is at stake. This is no time to be embarrassed.
Let the professionals do the talking. This is true especially if you are not a mental health expert. There are wellness centers out there with licensed professionals who know what to do. They have the capacity to protect the patient from herself. The only thing you can do is to be supportive, and follow the instructions from therapists on how to help your loved one.
You are going to feel frustrated and emotionally drained numerous times. And that’s understandable since you can’t even fathom the depths of grief or despair that some women go through. But the worst thing you can do is quit. The thing you have to remember is you can’t do it alone, and that it’s okay to ask for help. Depression treatment centers for women are a good start. They have medical experts and licensed therapists who can really help the patient whether the issue is emotional or chemical.