There has been a wave of media attention centered on popular (TV, Movies, Music, Art) media’s glorification of teen suicide, and yet it is good to continue this conversation from all perspectives. We know that recent research noted a significant leap in teen Web searches related to suicide and the most popular searches among those were items like “how to kill myself.”
That is dramatic, however; thinking about and searching for information on suicide is not the same as committing suicide. The existing research does not say definitively either way. That part actually does not matter unless there is a monumental change in store for popular media. The part that matters the most is that we communicate more often and more clearly on this difficult topic. Sometimes people are afraid to talk about suicide because they think that talking about suicide causes suicide – that is a myth. Actually the opposite is true; talking about it means someone cares and having someone to talk with is often cited as a life saver by individuals who have suicidal thoughts. If you can take away just a few do’s and don’ts here, you will be much better prepared for having this conversation.
From the National Suicide Hotline:
- Be yourself.
- Let the person know you care, that he/she is not alone.
- The right words are often unimportant.
- If you are concerned, your voice and manner will show it.
- Let the suicidal person unload despair, ventilate anger.
- No matter how negative the conversation seems, the fact that it exists is a positive sign.
- Be sympathetic, non-judgmental, patient, calm, accepting.
- Your friend or family member is doing the right thing by talking about his/her feelings.
- Consider getting help from a licensed therapist or calling the National Suicide Hotline
- Offer hope.
- Don’t argue with the suicidal person.
- Avoid saying things like: “You have so much to live for,” “Your suicide will hurt your family,” or “Look on the bright side.”
- Act shocked, lecture on the value of life, or say that suicide is wrong.
- Promise confidentiality.
- Offer ways to fix their problems, or give advice, or make them feel like they have to justify their suicidal feelings. It is not about how bad the problem is, but how badly it’s hurting your friend or loved one.
- Blame yourself.
The National Suicide Hotline is open 24/7 – 1-800-273-TALK.