World Mental Health Day is held every year on October 10 with the intention of creating a better understanding of mental health disorders. The theme of World Mental Health Day 2019 is “Working together to prevent suicide.” In recent times, suicides have grown by epidemic proportions. Identifying signs and timely help can save lives. Sadly, mental health is a poorly understood concept today despite rising awareness and decreasing stigma. Oftentimes, one do not know how to effectively deal with someone with problems like depression, anxiety or suicidal ideation. At such times, the language we use to communicate with a depressed, suicidal person can make a world of difference. One wrong thing you say can make them feel worse and push them to the brink. But the right thing can help them immensely. Here are some things you should NEVER say to a suicidal or depressed person. 13 Subtle Signs of Suicidal Behaviour According to a Psychiatrist That We Miss Out On.
“You Are Overreacting”
The last thing they want to hear is someone trivialising their feelings. If they are talking about death and hopelessness, chances are they are already tormented enough. By saying they are overreacting, you will make them feel worse about themselves. Instead, lend an ear to what they have to say. Who Are Most Likely to Commit Suicide? 10 Groups at Risk.
“Oh, You Will Be Fine”
In the throes of depression, for the suicidal person, it's difficult to envision a day when things will be "fine". Such words may be said with the best intentions but they often have the opposite impact. Be empathetic instead and give them the reassurance that you are there by their side.
“Suicide is For Cowards”
There’s a misconception that suicide is for cowards who don’t have the “courage” to face life’s problems. Everyone has different capacities for dealing with mental distress and it’s unfair to judge them by that. It also takes tremendous courage to talk about suicide and to seek help.
“If You Were Serious, You Wouldn’t Be Talking About It”
The worst thing while dealing with a suicidal person is thinking they are not serious about suicide. Talking about death could be a last-ditch effort for help. They may open up, thinking someone can help them out of it. Such statements are hurtful and can push the person to take the fatal step.
“They Are People Doing Much Worse”
Sure there are people undergoing worse trauma but they aren’t a yardstick for anyone. Like we said before – each of us has different thresholds for tolerating mental distress. Just because someone’s life is much worse doesn’t mean the person’s struggles are any trivial.
“Suicide is Selfish”
“Think about your parents!” Such statements put suicidal people in a fix and make them feel worse about themselves. They may have been enduring such feelings for a very long time for the sake of their family. At this point, they need to feel loved and not accused.
It takes a lot to save a life, mainly because most people don’t show signs of their suicidal ideation. But if someone has been talking openly about death and hopelessness, it’s your duty to salvage the situation with the right action. Take care to not hurt or trivialise their feelings; speak to their family and help them get professional help right away.