Some people think it’s hard to save a life. That it’s scary. That it’s too much to expect a “normal” person without “training” to do. But it’s not always like that. Speaking from experience some of the most helpful moments I’ve ever had came from normal/average people in my life who cared enough about me to step out of their comfort zone and speak their truth. Even if that truth didn’t “fix” anything. Even if that truth didn’t completely apply to my situation. To know that someone in my life willing stepped into my problems and attempted to help me out of them meant the world to me. It gave me hope. It gave me strength. It’s not a cure all. (But neither are pills or psychologists…)
Those moments keep me alive. Every time these moments happen I learn something new. I learn a new lesson. I grow stronger. Knowing that I am worth fighting for is a powerful thing. Because I don’t see that worth in myself. I really don’t. I have an understanding that it’s wrong that I don’t find worth in being me. I don’t like me. I don’t want to be me. I hate my life. I have an understanding that that is not right. But…I don’t like myself enough to change that. I mean it really is that simple/hard. I feel unworthy, to the point that I don’t see a reason to find my worth. I hate myself so much I think I deserve the pain I’m given. (Doesn’t mean I like the pain. Just kinda accept it…) But every time some person steps out of their life for a brief moment and steps into mine, my brain has to acknowledge that Someone thinks I have worth. That to other people I am important. And just maybe I should find that in my self. (It’s something I’m halfheartedly working on. I’m not going to lie. I still very much don’t think I deserve love. Very much expect everyone to just leave me. And I do not expect to live too much longer.)
Saving a life requires you to stop. You have to put away the phone. Put away your fears and worries. Put away your doubts. You have to fully commit to That moment. The moment when they open up. The moment when the tears fall. The moment when they can’t speak a single word. You have to be present in that moment. From there. You follow their lead.
If they’re asking you for advice, look into your life and see if you have anything that may apply. Offer to go with them to the hospital or doctor or psychologist, etc. Offer to sit with them while they call the suicide hotline if needed. Offer to stay with them until Paramedics arrive. Be Present. If they need a sound board; sew your mouth shut and just listen. Validate what they’re saying, even if you don’t particularly agree with it. “I think my life is meaningless.” “Man, that’s got to be really hard to go through life with. I’m glad you’re still here with me.” (Not those exact words maybe. But that’s the general idea. Acknowledge that those thoughts are Hard.) It is not easy to go through life thinking you have no reason for living. And find some way to show them how strong they are for dealing with those thoughts and emotions. It takes strength to be depressed for a long period of time. It’s not a weakness. Every day your mind tells you to just give up. And you tell it no. That is Amazing strength. Your brain tells you to just stay in bed, screw school or work, screw the kids, screw your family, just stay in bed today; and you tell it no. That’s strength. You are not weak. And on the days when you can’t get out of bed. That’s okay. It happens. But don’t stay there. It’s like having a fever. Sometimes the fever gets up to 103+ and it’s time to just lay down and do nothing for a bit. Cool down. Take some pills if needed. Take a shower or bath. Drink lots of water. Etc.
Sometimes for me, I just want to discuss. I have all these thoughts in my head and I really just want someone to talk to. Are these thoughts stupid? Is there any evidence or anything to back these thoughts up or are they a waste of space. Is this true or do I need to do more research? What’s other peoples opinion on this? I want to know. I want to discuss. I love having discussions with people. Even if we don’t fully agree. As long as their opinion isn’t hateful against people I’m a-okay with not agreeing with them. I enjoy hearing what other people think and taking new information into my brain and letting it sit for a bit. I enjoy the feeling of my brain actually working through something other than my messed up life. So sometimes I am suicidal, but honestly I just want to have a discussion (about pretty much anything). The suicidal thoughts usually fade back to normal levels during the discussion.
If appropriate in that moment, offer a shoulder to cry on. A hand to hold. A knee pressed against their knee. If you know them well a tight hug and a kiss on top of their head. But that all depends on the person. Any one of those helps me Immensely. It helps me feel grounded. Like I have a connection to this world. Because a lot of the time that’s a big reason I’m suicidal. I don’t feel like I have connections to this world. I don’t feel like I belong. I feel like a freak. I don’t follow the “rules”. So having that physical anchor to the world helps me a lot. But that depends on the person. Know them and yourself well enough to know if physical contact will help or hinder.
Don’t be afraid to reach out if needed. If you really just don’t feel comfortable. Completely out of your comfort zone with no idea how to proceed. Ask for help. (If you are physically with the person you might actually be able to ask them what might help them. “Hey. That sounds really horrible. What can I do for you? How can I help?”) But if not, call 911 if needed. Give them resources, local and national.
Heck. Sometimes just being goofy with them for a little while to help them take their mind off all the crap going on can help. Or being a goof until someone else shows up that maybe can handle the situation better than you can.
It all depends on the person and the situation. There really isn’t a “right” way to help people. People are way too different and unique. The best you can do is your best. And don’t be a jerk. These moments are definitely the “if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing” moments. (Unless you know the other person responds to tough love…I’d suggest only doing that in person though…but, again, depends on the person/situation.)
Please please Please don’t just walk away because it’s too much for you to handle. At the very least you can make sure they have someone else to talk to. Even if you just can’t handle it, maybe you’re going through a rough time yourself and you just can’t handle someone else’s depression. Or you just don’t know what to say or do. You don’t understand why the heck they reached out to you. It’s way too much pressure for you. That is A-okay. There is no shame in that. But PLEASE don’t leave them on their own. Find someone else that can talk to them or stay with them. Even if it is calling emergency services. (Though I really would use that as last resort. Try to think of other friends, family members, pastors, etc. first. 911 shouldn’t be the default unless you think they are an Immediate danger to themselves or others and no else is around to help them.) Make sure they understand, even if just through actions, that you do care. You just don’t feel comfortable, or are unable to help them in this moment. But you care enough to make sure they are safe and that someone else will help them.
You don’t have to be Wonder Woman or Superman to save a life. Just be yourself.
(This is just my two cents based on my personal experience. This may or may not apply to you or the people you love. If you need help, reach out. You’re not alone. Get professional help when needed.)