3 ways to respond to someone thinking about suicide

When a passerby said “that man is trying to kill himself,” these three boys found the man on a bridge and talked to him in all the right ways.

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  • There are so many people suffering in silence and feel that their only way out is to take their own life. They want the pain they are feeling to stop - they're blind to how many people actually love and care for them.

  • But luckily, for one man from the United Kingdom, three school boys took it very seriously when a passerby said "that man is trying to kill himself." The three boys found the man on a bridge in Hertfordshire, England and talked to him.

  • "We were persuading him not to jump." said one of the boys in an interview. They stood there talking to him - "We were keeping him calm so he just doesn't jump off quickly"

  • After a couple of minutes of talking, the boys sent one of their friends to get help while the other two did the only thing they could think to do. "Shawn got help and then me and Sammy were holding him" The three boys, ages 12, 13, and 14 did what they could to help the man through hugging him and getting help for him.

  • The two boys continued to hug the man until help arrived. When Shawn got back, he joined the hug. "I was just scared, I didn't want anyone to see him dead."

  • They continued to hug him until help arrived.

  • Sometimes we think we have to do something big or be trained to know what to say in this situation, but there is always something you can do until you can find help. These boys were not expertly qualified but they knew they could hug this man until professional help came.

  • Along with stories like this, campaigns like semi colon tattoos and Demi Lovato's open conversations about mental health, discussions about suicide prevention are happening more often, giving us all hope that we can help save a life. Even if you aren't trained professionally, you can do these three things to help someone who is suicidal, until the experts arrive:

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  • 1. Take the person seriously

  • Like the school boys at the bridge, it's important to take people seriously when they say they are considering suicide. Before contemplating suicide, people send out signals that they are thinking this way and need some help. Take it seriously when people say things like "I don't want to be here anymore" "I just can't do it" or "I just want it to stop."

  • 2. Don't shame or blame

  • When we shame people for being sad, making a mistake or feeling lonely, it's isolating. Your friend or family member is doing the right thing by talking about how they feel with you - take the time to listen. Give support, be empathetic and encourage your loved one to talk things out with a health professional. Brené Brown'svideo on empathy gives a poignant reminder on how we should treat those around us.

  • 3. Meet people at their sadness

  • A lot of people are struggling. They are blaming themselves for the pain and hopelessness they feel. Instead of telling them "you aren't really that sad" or "you'll be fine" try to listen to their problems. Acknowledge and validate their feelings. Be yourself and offer your friend or family member hope through your friendship. Tell them you will be there for them (a hug is a great way to reassure them that you are there for them) and it's not a bad idea to thank them for sharing their feelings either.

  • You can also provide resources for people so they know who to turn to (besides you, of course). Websites like the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention or Mental Health First Aid. People struggling (or those looking to help) can also visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or call them at 1-800-273-8255)

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Christa is a part time photographer, part time writer and full time lover of life. She loves eating chocolate chip cookies and singing (but not at the same time). She has her degree in political science.

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