Two weeks ago social media was in a stir over the death of two celebrities, Kate Spade & Anthony Bourdain, via suicide. During that week I saw some incredible support for those with mental illness. I also saw some very inconsiderate and ignorant comments about suicide and mental illness. Some of those comments even came from people in the wellness space. It’s as if mental wellness did not fit in the physical wellness space.
It’s hard to understand what it’s like to be in a place where suicide seems like the only option until you are there. I remember when I was younger thinking that suicide was selfish and that I could never do that. As I share in Suicide Awareness episode of The Inspired Women Podcast my first suicidal ideation came when I was 13 years old. Even after that I didn’t quite understand what brings someone to make that ultimate decision because I didn’t act on my ideation. It wasn’t until the time that I was acting on it that I could really understand.
How to support someone With Mental Illness
1) Check on them. Don’t just assume that because they seem ok that they are really ok.
2) Be a listening ear. You are most likely not a therapist so don’t try to diagnosis just listen.
3) Encourage them to seek out a mental health professional. Diagnosis should come from a mental health professional not a friend or a primary care physician.
4) Validate their feelings. Nothing is worse than having someone tell us that our feelings are invalid.
5) Educate yourself. Learn more about signs of mental illness and suicide. Be a willing student.
If you have never experiences mental illness or suicidal ideation it can be difficult to understand. It’s important we set aside our inherent biases and judgement so we can support those around us who are struggling. It’s not up to you to “save” someone with mental illness but it is important to support them. Each person has to make their own decisions when it comes to their mental health. When we are informed and supportive we can help with those decisions.
Just because someone may seem “happy” or “successful” that does not mean they aren’t struggling. Many of us have spent years learning how to fake being “ok”. That doesn’t mean the signs won’t be there just that we need to look a little closer to see them. Many times today’s society is too busy to see those signs. If you lose someone to suicide know it’s not your fault. It’s not that they didn’t love you or they thought you were awful. They were struggling and probably thought the world would be better off without them in it.
Remember YOU ARE BRAVE, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, YOU ARE AMAZING & YOU ARE ENOUGH!!!
If you want more information on the subject of suicide prevention please listen to Episode 73 of The Inspired Women Podcast.