Last time I talked about feeling suicidal and who to tell if you’re feeling suicidal. This time I talk about how to tell someone you’re feeling suicidal.
How to Tell Someone You’re Feeling Suicidal
If you’re telling a professional, it’s actually not that hard. Just come straight out and tell them. Don’t dance around it and try not to be afraid because they’ve heard the words, “I’m suicidal,” so many more times than you can imagine. They know those words and they know what to do with them. Remember, you can’t get help and you can’t feel better if you don’t tell anyone.
If you’re telling a non-professional that you feel suicidal it can be tougher, but it can be done. Telling someone that you’re feeling suicidal is like talking about anything else serious:
- Make sure you have a quiet, private space and time to talk
- Plan out what you want to say ahead of time
- Try to be calm, if you can
- Bring a loved one, if you need to, and one is available
- Provide resources for the person you tell (like a website on suicide or a hotline)
And remember that the other person may need time to adjust to the news. It’s a big thing you just told them and sometimes people don’t’ react in the best way to big news. Give them a chance to digest the information though and hopefully they will come around.
What If the Person You Tell Isn’t Supportive?
I’m sorry to say that even if you pick the right person and the right moment and say all the right words, not everyone is going to be supportive in such a serious situation. Your average person doesn’t have training on how to handle suicidal loved ones and they might react very badly simply because if their own baggage that has nothing to do with you.
If the person isn’t supportive, it’s not about you – it’s about them.
I wish I could save people from having this experience, but I can’t. All I can say is that if the person isn’t supportive, it’s not about you – it’s about them. Most people will support you. If you find one who can’t, then you have to tell someone else. I know you don’t want to go through the hell of telling someone else that you feel suicidal again, but sometimes it can’t be avoided.
What if the Person Overreacts?
Well, overreacting is kind of natural when you hear a loved one is feeling suicidal but hopefully, with the correct information, you can work together to form a plan to deal with your feelings of suicide. The other person might be really upset. That’s because they don’t want to lose you and can’t imagine a world without you in it. Try to understand that perspective. Try to understand that their love of you is causing their reaction. It’s their love of you that will help you during this tough time so try to embrace it.
What Happens after I Tell Someone I’m Feeling Suicidal?
A professional might do any number of things but generally, if you tell a professional that you’re not planning on acting on your feelings of suicide, they’re going to try to help you through the situation without admitting you to a psychiatric facility. Psychiatric facilities are generally for those who are a danger to themselves or others.
In an ideal world, a loved one would always be supportive and they would always help you find help for your situation. Because while telling someone that you’re suicidal is a good first step, if they’re not a professional, they can’t really handle the problem and you can’t get better.
But what they can do is stand beside you as you make a plan to find a professional to help you with your suicidal feelings. And this is huge thing. It’s a huge gift. Having someone see your underbelly and love you anyway will give you strength. Hopefully it will give you the strength you need to get that help.
Because in the end, the goal of telling someone that you feel suicidal is to feel better. And you need to keep talking to people until that happens. You deserve it. You deserve help and you deserve a life that you want to live.
About Natasha Tracy
Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.