It is a sad fact about modern society that mental health crises have become so commonplace. One in five people surveyed in 2018 admitted to having mental health issues. One in twenty-five people experienced serious mental illness. Considering the amount of people struggling with life, it’s inevitable that suicide would become a more pressing problem. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-34 in the U.S. The overall suicide rate in the U.S. has increased by thirty-one percent since 2001.
This is a scourge that must be dealt with sooner rather than later. No one deserves this much anguish on a daily basis. The first step to dealing with any problem, regardless of its gravity, is to understand what you’re looking for. What causes someone to believe that killing themselves is the only way out? What does a suicidal person look like? Mental health disorders do not care about social status, popularity, money, or any of the other things that people incorrectly believe can be a simple panacea to a tormented soul. It’s vital to look past basic stereotypes and treat the person that needs help.
It’s not always obvious that someone is considering suicide. Thoughts about self-harm, also known as suicidal ideation, can take various different forms, but typically fall into two main categories of suicidal ideation: active and passive.
Active suicidal ideation is easier to notice. This is when someone is intent on committing the act and has present plans to do so. But before anyone gets to that point, they engage in passive suicidal ideation. This is when someone intermittently imagines their death, or how they would want to die, but has no plans to follow through on the notions. In a way, this form is more insidious because it is often overlooked both by both health professionals and family members who don’t realize what their sibling or relative is going through.
It’s a terrifying thought: that frustrated thoughts about a person’s job or self-image could morph into something fatal. But there is a silver lining to this reality. Nearly everyone has struggled with their career, unsure about their connections to society, or been anxious about the future. Our personal plights are more relatable than we realize. We are more alike than we are different. We have the ability to take better care of each other if we try.
There are dozens of factors that can cause a person to think about suicide, but no matter the reason, it all boils down to an unending feeling of hopelessness. Whatever treatment plan is used to help a suicidal person has to find a way to bring hope back into the suicidal person’s life. The first step to doing that is to discover what made them so hopeless in the first place. Every suicidal person needs a personalized treatment plan, but the most consistent ways to help are:
- Therapy: Speaking to a licensed professional about your problems is a great way to view your pain from a different perspective and gain insights you might not be able to find on your own.
- A stable support group: Let your friends and family know what you’re dealing with so they can lift you when you’re low and keep you from feeling isolated or lonely. If you are the friend or family member reading this, then make it a point to ask this person how they’re feeling (mental illness often makes emotional vulnerability feel more dangerous than it is) and tell them how much you care about them.
- Lifestyle changes: Ultimately, all substantial changes to a person’s life must be made by the person who needs the changes. Becoming more aware of harmful stressors, improving your eating and sleeping habits, and developing healthier habits will do wonders for your mental state.
Helping people rediscover the joys of life is an immensely difficult job, but we have a moral imperative to help those lost in the abyss.
All of this is easier said than done, of course. For those stricken with mental illness, it can often feel impossible to overcome them. Many disorders cannot be “beaten” or “fixed”. They are long term conditions that have to be managed. The path to self-acceptance is a winding road full of roadblocks. But if you approach the issues with empathy and patience for the victim you’re dealing with – whether it’s you or someone else in your life – the light will soon reappear. Everyone deserves to have that chance.