Mental health issues can affect anyone. It impacts everyone. If you look at the people around you, you’ll likely find that at least one of them struggles with some form of mental illness. It could be a friend, neighbour, colleague or even your parent. They may seem to have a ‘perfect’ life, or not believe in therapy. They may appear to be perfectly happy; they may be hiding that something is very wrong.
There’s no way to know what thoughts are spiralling through their brain. There will be things that their loved ones don’t know about or worries that never leave the safe space within their mind. They may be having suicidal thoughts, or self-harming tendencies.
This could be you. If it is, seek help. Tell someone you love and trust about this. Call 911 or got to the closest emergency room. Connect with a suicide helpline like 1-833-456-4566. Find support. You deserve it.
If this isn’t you, it is very possible that someone near you is contemplating suicide or struggling to manage suicidal thoughts. In a perfect world, everyone would get help, and reach out for support. However, that doesn’t always happen. They may have grown up in an area where mental illness is heavily stigmatized, where needing support is a sign of weakness. They may feel that others have it worse, and don’t deserve support themselves. They may feel isolated, completely alone, worried about being denied support by those they love. Even though that isn’t true, it is how many feel, and how many will continue to feel. Especially those who are being pushed down by suicidal urges.
Show those around you that you support them, that you’re there for them. Reach out to those you love, know, and care about. Just like those who are struggling are not always suicidal, even those who aren’t showing signs of poor mental health may be hiding suicidal thoughts. While no one person can be an ever-present figure of support, it can greatly help to have discussions about mental health with those around you, communicate about issues, and help everyone feel more supported. Share resources on accessing support with those near you and make them aware that there are people who will help them, who care about them, and can be reached out to if support is needed, especially regarding suicidal thoughts.
There may not be a quick and easy solution to help someone struggling with suicidal thoughts, but being a pair of supportive, listening ears can go a long way. So, until we reach a world where everyone gets help, and everyone can get help, do the best you can, by being there for those you love, and even those you don’t.
In honour of World Suicide Prevention Day, International Association for Suicide Prevention created a reference sheet to help people reach out and make a difference. Let’s all be aware and support those around us suffering from mental illness.