Importance and tips for talking about suicide

Talking about suicide can save lives, as it builds bridges towards those who cannot find a way out. Find out how to properly focus a conversation on it.

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 10 September, 2022

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Every year, close to 1 million people take their own lives and many more try to do so. Despite this, there is still a climate of silence and stigma surrounding the issue. For the same reason, and on the occasion of World Suicide Prevention Day celebrated on September 10, we want to tell you about the importance of talking about suicide.

When a person decides to take their own life, they are facing suffering that is difficult for those who are not in their shoes to understand. However, it is common for these people to be forced to face their pain in silence and in secret. At a social level we tend to avoid the subject or judge those who have this type of ideas.

Nevertheless, talking about suicide can save lives and prevent devastation that affects entire families. Let’s explore the importance of starting to do it and some keys about it.

The importance of talking about suicide

There is a widespread belief that talking about suicide encourages committing it. It is for the same reason that it is barely mentioned in the media and people prefer not to discuss the matter with their suffering relatives. However, the opposite happens: it is necessary to speak.

This belief stems from the so-called contagion effect” either Werther effect, by which people tend to commit more suicides after seeing them represented in the media. However, it is known that this only occurs as a result of journalistic malpractice, of treating the subject in a sensational and shallow way.

When you approach it consciously, without giving specific or morbid details, without glorifying it and focusing on the avenues of help available, the result is the opposite. By normalizing talking about suicide, people with this type of ideation can feel understoodlistened to and with alternatives within their reach.

Talking about these thoughts is liberating, produces a catharsis and eliminates the feeling of loneliness and isolation that is usually experienced and that only increases the discomfort. In addition, this allows arrivals to pay attention to warning signs and act in time, offering the necessary support and help.

Tips for talking about suicide

Facing a conversation about suicide is not easy for either party. However, given its importance, it is necessary to do so. Next, we offer you some keys that can help you in this regard.

It is not easy to talk about it, but it is necessary. Missing the opportunity is a mistake.

ask openly

Although it may be uncomfortable and painful, if you suspect that someone close to you is suicidal, it is preferable to openly ask about it.This will allow a space for emotional expression and release, help build bridges and reduce the other person’s feeling of loneliness.

With this question he will know that you care about his well-being, that you are concerned and willing to accompany and help.

apply active listening

A person who thinks of taking his own life is in a painful process. You need understanding. But to understand her, it is essential to listen to what she has to say.

Be genuinely interested in what he feels, be close and available. Don’t be shocked by his words or try to get him to stop talking about it. Emotional ventilation is necessary.

Being empathic and validating the suffering of the other

It is not always easy to be empathetic. When a suicidal person talks to us about their feelings and motives, we may tend to invalidate and minimize them.

“We all have problems, it’s not that bad, it’s just a bad streak”. These phrases do not help, because even if we do not understand it, the suffering of the other is so great that there is no way out. To ease your pain and accompany you it is essential that we give legitimacy to what he feels.

Do not judge or make moral reproaches

Many people often avoid talking about suicide for fear of being judged by those closest to them. It may be incomprehensible to you that someone wants to take their own life; It may even be morally reprehensible. But don’t make judgments.

Claiming that person for their behavior, criticizing them, making them feel guilty or ashamed is not the way to go. No one understands what another feels if they are not in their skin. Sometimes when life confronts us with challenges beyond our ability to cope, giving up can seem like the only way out.

Offer and encourage social support

At this time it is essential that you offer unconditional support, company and presence. Devote your time and attention to that person, not by making her feel watched or persecuted, but by showing genuine love and concern.

Social support is a strong protective element in these cases, so it is convenient to strengthen the person’s support network and remind them that you are at their disposal.

The support must be clear. The other person must understand that others are there to help him.

Talk about alternatives and available avenues of support

First of all, when talking about suicide, it is important to focus on the alternatives and solutions available. When the other person opens up to us and tells us what worries and torments him, we must help him to have a broader perspective.

People with suicidal ideation often have a depressive attributional style; that is, they interpret that the bad thing that happens to them is their fault, that it affects all areas of their life and that it is impossible to modify. This generates a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness that leads them to not see the exit options.

Helping them find the light at the end of the tunnel, the available solutions and encouraging them to seek professional help are the most relevant tasks in these cases.

Talking about suicide can save lives

Definitely, it is time to break the taboo around suicide and start making it visible and normalizing it. Those who contemplate it as an alternative need to find listening, empathy and support from the environment; They need to express what they think and feel.

When we offer the opportunity to talk about it, we build a bridge that makes a difference; As long as we do it properly. Thus, Let’s avoid silence and sensationalism and focus on prevention. Talking about suicide can save lives.

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