I worked many years as a emergency counselor for suicide intervention for teens. I worked at one of the largest and highest risk high schools here in San Diego that was 100% below the poverty level for school meals. That means that 100% of our students qualified for free meals at the school. While males in their 60's have the highest suicide rate, teenagers have the highest suicidal ideation rate, and this left me with a very busy job. I had a campus radio along with the other admin of the school and each time there was a crisis I would hear over the radio my name being called to a certain room number, office, or gym. I would get in and work with the teen at the heat of their crisis and emotional state and work on stabilizing them emotionally to set up a safety contract. My main message to them all is that they mattered. Even if they didn't feel like it or that the ones who should be treating them like they do matter, they still do matter independent of anyone else's treatment or opinion.
We have two choices in our mind, to believe we are good or bad, it is that simple and I always ask, which one makes you feel better, and that is the choice you need to make. I then work on how to push the lies of the other belief out of their mind so it stops shunning out the good choice. With mental health and depression, many get to a point where they feel so low and worthless that there seems no other point to go on and no other reason. But this is when one must fight back and find reasons to go on, even if they are small, because what we believe in life is what we will perceive. If we believe there is a reason worth living, we will perceive that in many of our daily occurrences. Finding help through various avenues is extremely important such as counselors, group programs and even a hobby or class that gives you the opportunity to interact positively with others.
Here are a few steps you can do if you or someone you know struggles with these types of thoughts:
- One thing about the brain that is important is that it processes everything around it whether consciously or non-consciously, so monitoring the media, music, and other mundane influences that are around is huge, even if you think it is minor, get rid of it because we are too precious and fragile to filter the minor at this point.
- Post positive messages around the house on the fridge, stickies, in frames etc of uplifting quotes, personal messages, scriptures, on how valuable life is, you or they are to the world, and the value in them as an individual. I use a lot of scriptures or philosophers quotes that remind us of truths in our lives and mortal existence.
- Be confident in addressing lovingly and unconditionally the topic of the behavior of someone who may be depressed. One thing I learned when doing suicidal assessments is to ask straight forward questions "Are you currently thinking of killing yourself", "how?" "have you tried before?", "how". Give them a judgement free / safe zone to answer these questions and when you are coming at it with love in your heart, it is very hard for the person to lie when asked a direct question. If they do lie, you will know as it will be hard for them to answer you and they will get upset instead of answering your questions.
- Find a good counselor, one that the person in need can relate to and trust. This can take several sessions so give it some time and normalize the fact that they are going to a counselor so they don't confirm again to themselves that something is wrong with them.
- Get involved in a positive group and / or hobby. This can be something like a sport, art, a church group, youth groups, YMCA groups, crafts etc. Anything that encourages creativity as this is a magic key that enlightens and empowers an individual is when they can feel in control and creating. I would constantly use pinterest or other avenues for what my teens were interested in and find resources to get them involved whether it was cooking creatively, or sewing or sports.
Lastly, stay full of hope, that hope will rub off on others and if you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, remember you are not alone and seeking help sooner rather than later is always best. Being heard and having a voice to express the deepest, darkest feelings one is having about themselves is crucial to being able to let go of those deep, dark feelings, and replace them with truths about oneself, that you are unique, special and that you do matter.
This video is a great story about one man's survival of attempted suicide and what he learned by being given a second chance. It is a story of hope and life after falling into the deepest of paths. Anything is possible: