This past week I heard of two people who commited suicide. I didn’t as such know either of them directly however both had a place in the outskirts of my life. Both deaths impacted me. I feel a sense of deep sadness that both people reached such a hopeless place of despair that death seemed like their only option.
In my counselling work I have worked with people who had reached such despair that suicide seemed the only way to stop the pain. I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to be able to reach out to these people and help them find other options to ease their pain rather than taking their own life. And I know it can seem like the hardest thing in the world to say to someone that you want to kill yourself. The fear of how they are going to react is paralysing in being able to get the words out. It seems impossible that someone can understand. Often people will try to reach out to someone by saying words like “I just can’t go on”, “I can’t cope any more” or “it all seems too much”. People who have come to me have never said I want to end it all. But I have learned to read between the lines and pick up on the words they are not saying. I am not afraid of suicidal thoughts so I will ask straight out with kind gentle words “you seem to be really struggling, are you thinking of killing yourself?”. I name what the person may not be able to verbalise. And I can see the combination of relief and trepidation when they say “yes, I want to stop the pain”. I can see the part of them that desperately wants someone else to understand and the part that is terrified that I won’t. And I do want to understand, I say tell me more, tell me about your pain. I am not afraid, I can hold the darkness and despair. I say share your pain with me. I won’t judge it, I won’t diminish it. I won’t say “it will be alright”, I won’t say “things will get better”. I just say tell me what it is like, I am here for you. I listen deeply as I know how important this is.
This can be the first step to choosing an alternative to suicide. And I know it is the first tentative step as the feelings, thoughts and life events that have brought a person to a suicidal place are going to be deep, painful and complex. I know it will take time to unravel them and to start really believing that there is a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel. But trust me when I say there is hope. Please reach out and look for it.
I am not so grandiose that I think I can save people’s lives. However what I can offer is my time, my ability to be able to listen to you and help you to be able to deeply listen to yourself. I am a human being who understands that life can be overwhelming sometimes.
Organisations that can assist if you are having suicidal thoughts are:
Pieta House: www.pieta.ie
There is no cost for using the services of these organisations.
These organisations are also not afraid of suicide so you can contact them with the reassurance of knowing that you will be treated with dignity and understanding.
If you are thinking about suicide I would urge you to please ask for help. There are people who can guide you towards finding the hope that feels like you have lost forever.
Photo by : Michael Ciarleglio