Preventing permanent solutions to temporary problems

Challenging 4 myths about suicide

I have a friend who over 10 years ago made a serious suicide attempt. His wife had called me at around 8.30am saying he had left home very early without speaking to her. She knew he had a lot on his mind and was worried about him. He had not responded to her repeated calls or texts. He was not at his office. We agreed the police needed to be called. Thankfully his attempt was unsuccessful and all these years later he is in a much more positive place.

Sadly that is not the case for the people mentioned in this short 1 minute video below:

The tragic fact is that 84 men commit suicide in the UK every week. Suicide is the leading cause of death in the UK for those under 50.

The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is a U.K based charity dedicated to preventing male suicide. They offer support and focus on changing the culture that prevents men from seeking help when they need it.

Here are 4 myths about how to respond to someone who you suspect may be considering suicide:....

Myth: You should not talk about suicide as it might put the idea into someone's head.

Fact: Talking about suicide openly will not make it more likely to happen. Just being there for the person and listening in an accepting way can help the person feel less isolated and frightened.

Myth: If someone has tried suicide before they don't really mean it. It is just a cry for help.

Fact: Those who have attempted suicide before have a higher chance of eventually dying by suicide, although many people have suicidal feelings without acting on them.

Myth: Most people who talk about killing themselves rarely complete suicide.

Fact: Most people who kill themselves have talked about it and/or given some verbal clues.

Myth: Once someone has decided to die by suicide there is nothing you can do to stop them.

Fact: Suicide can be prevented. Many people who are suicidal do not want to die. They just want to stop their pain.

Here are also some practical ways you can help:

  • Talk to the person about how they are feeling. Ask them if they have felt like this before and how long they have been feeling like this.
  • Listen to the person and take them seriously.
  • Don't dismiss expressions of hopelessness as a 'cry for help' or try to 'jolly' them out of it.
  • It is important to encourage the person to get some help.
  • What support do they have? If the person has any one else involved in their care, ask them if they have let them know how they are feeling.
  • Does the person have someone to talk to or a helpline number to call if they feel desperate?
  • If the person says they do not want anyone else to know how they are feeling, explain that if you are concerned about their immediate safety and you feel they may harm themselves (or others) you will have to contact someone to inform them(such as the mental health team, the GP or the police).

I had a remarkably sobering insight when I spoke to my friend a few days after his suicide attempt. He told me about about his thought processes in the early hours of the morning of the day he went missing. He had been so full of anxiety and worry about the financial issues he was facing. Suddenly a thought came that he could get away from it all by ending his life. At that point he described how he had an overwhelming sense of calm and peace. It was at that point he decided he would make the attempt to end his life. His account was a vivid reminder to me how dangerously our minds can mislead us about what is right for us. He had not shared his thought processes openly with anyone so as to get other perspectives. When I look at his transformed life, and how content and positive he now is, I am reminded how unnecessary such permanent solutions to temporary problems can be.

For further details, advice and resources to help someone who you suspect may be suicidal do go to the CALM support page here.

You may also find of help:

Podcast #004: Combatting Depression

Podcast #017: The Last Taboo Subject?

Podcast #031: How Can I Live With Hope Today?

Podcast #032: How To Know Joy When Life Feels Tough

Podcast #033: Practical Ways To Find Joy Through Disappointment

Podcast #039: Overcoming Failure

Rick Warren And The Secret Anguish of Major Depressive Disorder

What Do I Say To A Loved One Who Is Struggling With Depression?

The Scale Of Mental Health Problems And What To Do About Them

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “Preventing permanent solutions to temporary problems

  1. A very sobering video and series of comments and responses regarding suicide. I too have had those feelings of ending it all – but the story of your friend highlighted how suddenly such thoughts can come. I sometimes wonder at the deceit and power of some destructive thoughts occurring in our minds and personally ponder the evil origin of such ‘peaceful’ ideas! Thank you for your blog Sunil.

    • Thank you for sharing. I think the key is understanding we don’t have to believe everything we think, as well as how easily feelings can deceive us.

  2. Very sobering – and concerning. The idea of suicide bringing “a sense of peace” is indeed alarming. Thanks for these insights. We all have a responsibility here to help prevent and hopefully your work will mean more of us have some clues as to how and why these awful situations can develop.