How to support a suicidal loved-one in a lock-down?
Mental health has been a challenge for almost all of us during this extended lock-down but for people who were already dealing with mental health issues, it has exacerbated it. Recently, I was contacted by a person who was looking for advice on dealing with a suicidal loved one. I understand that many of you may be in similar situations. With support systems unreachable it has fallen on family members, roommates, and friends to support their loved ones who are in really dark places. Here are some bits of advice I would like to leave with you.
You don't have to be worried about using the words "suicide" or "ending your life" -
it doesn't send them over the edge or gives them ideas. The very fact that you know means that they have thought about it many times already. Asking them specifically helps them understand that you take them seriously and are concerned.
Avoid laughing it off or making light of the person or the idea.
It can be very stressful to hear the word suicide and it makes all of us uncomfortable but don't try to diffuse the situation with humour. Instead, keep the person talking, go deeper and try to understand how they got there.
Avoid toxic positivity.
You may feel like the person has a great life and no reason to want to end it but this may not be the time or the place to say it. Forcing the person to look on the bright side of life, may make them feel even more misunderstood and they may not open up to you again. Instead, talk to them about how life is hard and sometimes the lows feel deeper than the highs and that can be tough. Talk to them about what has been making them feel low and empathise with them.
Pray with them and for them.
At this time, it is easy to give advice like pray more - you'll feel better. But it can be hard to pray when the person is depressed. So, stand in prayer with them and pray for them. Avoid making them feel like they don't have enough faith which is why they are feeling so low.
In an emergency, go to the hospital emergency room.
While doctors may not be sitting for normal clinic hours during the lock-down, the emergency room is open. If the person is getting to a point where you feel that things have become unmanageable, get them to the hospital to be medicated. After medication, the person needs to go in for therapy and counselling even if that is over the phone. Begin Again provides online counselling sessions that can be booked on the website.
Take care of yourself.
It is emotionally and mentally exhausting to carry another person's pain and you as a care giver can feel burnt out. It's okay to tap out and get help. Either with other family members or mental health professionals who will provide tele-counselling.
Always remember that you are only human and you are doing the best you can. If you need support or more information please do reach out.