The recent surge in suicide in Nigeria is an indicator that mental health should be a priority.
Sadly, when people voice out their desires to commit suicide especially on social media, most people encourage them to go ahead with the suicide.
You should know that when someone expresses thoughts of suicide, it is not the time to be sarcastic or ironic. It is up to you to help talk that person out of suicide. Below are tips to do so:
Encourage the person to seek treatment.
Point such a person in the right direction. Link him or her up with mental health experts and doctors. It is not your place to serve as a mental health professional but you may offer advice and support. If he or she is skeptical about health experts, encourage them to talk to a trusted person, teacher or family.
Be respectful and acknowledge the person’s feelings.
Do not express shock or annoyance. Rather, acknowledge the person’s feelings and be respectful. If you are not respectful, the person can withdraw and eventually it will cause a shutdown in communication.
Encourage the person to communicate with you.
Someone who is suicidal is probably feeling ashamed and embarrassed and may lean towards keeping mute. Encourage the person to talk with you by giving him or her rapt attention without interrupting. Never ever pass the blame on the person as the person may already be struggling with guilt.
Do not be judgmental.
Statements like “Things could have been worse” or “You should be grateful” or “your situation is better than mine” are very wrong. Rather, ask questions like, “What’s causing you to feel so bad?” “What would make you feel better?” or “How can I help?” Forget about your own problems and be supportive.
Offer reassurance that things can get better.
When someone is suicidal, what they believe is that nothing can get better. So this is the time to reassure the person that with appropriate treatment, he or she can develop other ways to feel better about life again.
Never keep someone’s suicidal feelings a secret.
Be understanding but share with appropriate relations and persons what is going on. You absolutely have to get help especially if you think the person’s life is in danger.
Remove potentially dangerous items.
Make sure the person is not surrounded with items that could be used for suicide — such as knives, razors, guns, ropes, insecticide or drugs. If the person takes a medication that could be used for overdose, encourage him or her to have someone safeguard it and give it as prescribed.
Help stop the increasing rate of suicide.