When depression turns into feelings of despair, life can get very dark. If you are struggling with severe hopelessness or suicidal thoughts, the first step is to share your feelings with someone whom you think can support you. Someone who will help you STAY.
“In desperate moments, sometimes suicide is attempted as a permanent solution to what might be a temporary problem,” says Sunil Khushalani, MD, Atlantic Health System’s medical director of Behavioral Health. “If you are worried that someone is considering taking their life, reach out. It is often the small things like a call, an invitation to hang out, or just a check-in to see how the person is feeling that can make a difference.”
“If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, don’t make a decision now. You don’t need to act on your thoughts today. You may find that you are more able to cope in a few days so, for now, talk to someone or get professional support,” Dr. Khushalani advises. There is a three-digit nationwide number to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: 988.
Just as there are multiple ways to reach out for help, there are multiple ways to intervene and provide support. Whether you’re finding it hard to live or you know someone who is, consider the following thoughts which will help you talk to someone who is struggling, and will help to encourage them to S.T.A.Y.
- Suicide is not the answer, even when things are the darkest — so please STAY.
Sometimes all it takes is a moment to see your way through. Have a list of your values and reasons to keep living. Keep this list somewhere that you can read it when things get tough. Remember that you can survive and control suicidal thoughts.
- Take a small step to care for yourself.
It can be as simple as getting a drink of water, taking a warm shower, or calling someone (the hotline is always there, 988). These small self-care actions may be just enough to help you STAY and see the possibilities for living. When you are ready, work on a safety plan that details what to do when you feel suicidal.
- Allow yourself to receive help.
Asking for and accepting help can be hard for anyone, but we all need support at some time in our lives. Allow yourself to imagine a better day ahead and ask for help. It can be as simple as sending a text: When you get a chance, can you contact me? Or, I feel really alone and could use some support, are you free to talk? Or, you can be totally honest, “This is really hard for me to say but I’m having suicidal thoughts and it might help to talk. Are you free?
- You matter.
It is as simple as that. Please STAY. Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: 988
A Troubling Trend
Since the pandemic, mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, stress, and addiction have more than doubled. Suicide statistics are climbing, too.
“This is a very worrisome condition,” says Dr. Khushalani. “Suicide rates in the United States have become the second most common cause of death in teens. For many adults and teens, there is usually an underlying undiagnosed mental condition. But there’s also a stigma to mental illness that we need to normalize. We’re human beings, we need to take care of each other.”
Additional crisis intervention providers:
- Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: 988
- The Trevor Lifeline for LGBTQIA+ Youth: 1-866-488-7386⠀
- Disaster Distress Helpline: Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
- Veterans Crisis Line: Dial 988 and Press 1
- Dial 211: 211 provides callers with information about and referrals to social services for every day needs and in times of crisis
- SAMHSA Treatment Locator
No More Whispers
Let's end the whispering about mental illness and addiction. There is no shame, you can't catch it, and like many other diseases, no one asks for it. It affects all ages, ethnicities, income levels, and genders. We all know someone. Don't fear it. Don't judge it. Understand it. Let's not whisper anymore.