One of the most irritating things which is said about suicide attempts is when it is called Just a cry for help. Then, someone decides to no longer associate with the person who they say is just crying for help. If suicide and peoples attempts at it are cries for help, shouldn’t we try to help that person and not cut them out of our lives? The main problem with this phrase is the word ‘just.’ It makes whatever caused a person to feel the need to kill themselves seem inconsequential. It takes the sense of social responsibility away from the situation. It gives people an excuse to walk away, because they don’t understand what they are saying.
If suicide is a cry for help, then I think it is our obligation as friends and parents, siblings and spouses to offer help. We should be making room for a person to know they are loved, and have a place to turn that isn’t dark. Take the ‘Just’ out of the equation and we have a person who is saying they need someone to understand that they are in a bad place, and it’s one they don’t see a way out of.
I know this feeling. I have walked this path. Depression is a serious issue, and everyone deals with it in their own way. However, when you get to the point of thinking that you cannot live anymore, it is a terrifying state to live in. You become consumed with the thought that nobody understands. Even when you reach out, you don’t hear comfort in the words of others, instead you feel more misunderstood. At least this has been my experience. I’m sure this is not true for everyone.
It is not easy to be around a person who feels like this. Often the depression makes it hard for friends and family to be around the person, because they don’t understand, won’t listen, or feel as if they can’t help and they give up. This is when the suicidal person becomes so isolated and alone with only their own thoughts, that it really does seem as if the only way to make the bad feelings go away is to just commit the act. No matter how selfish people view this act, the problem is that when someone is feeling that low, they honestly feel as if the world would be a better place without them.
So, if an attempted suicide is a cry for help, and often it is, it is never ‘just’ a cry for help. It is an impassioned plea for someone to notice their pain. It is the person’s way of screaming to everyone they know all at once to say “there is something wrong with me and I don’t know how to fix it, can someone please show me the way?”
So, now I say to embrace the crazy, and I mean in this sense to give them a hug. Show your support, your understanding. Be the person with compassion. You do not have to understand the sadness or the feeling of hopelessness in order to just be there for the person. Remember, actions speak louder than words, and often we think that just by saying the person can come to us doesn’t make them understand they can. Be present. Be there when you can. You don’t have to hold their hand every second of every day, but sometimes all someone needs is for you to reach out, hold their hand, and let them feel for a moment that it won’t always hurt. Things can get better. But this will only happen if we stop ignoring the plea.
We should remove the word ‘just’ from our vocabulary, at least in regards to mental health. It isn’t just depression, it isn’t just anxiety, it isn’t just addiction, it isn’t just anything. And suicide is for sure not Just a cry for help.