Silence is not the answer.
It’s time to talk openly about suicide.
I have spent the last few months traveling to several communities to discuss this prevalent issue of suicide, and I wanted to share a few of the lessons I have learned.
1. Ask the tough question, “Are you feeling suicidal?”
Pay attention to the guts. If you think there is a problem then there probably is. At that point it is important to ask this difficult question. Yet, I think we fear asking the question because we fear the response. What happens if the person you care about says, “Yes.” Then it’s real. And in this moment sometimes we can panic causing us to automatically begin to talk. However, elders remind us that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason.
2. To help someone live you have to listen to their reasons for dying.
It’s not our job to fix someone. Rather, if we can create the space where an individual feels comfortable talking about some of their pain, the darkness will naturally make its way to the light. I suspect you can relate to this. Think back to a time where you gave yourself permission to talk about some of your challenges, and then later you sat back and said something like, “Well… I feel better!” Why? Because you released that energy, and darkness can’t survive in light.
3. All you can control is yourself.
Naturally, we hope that the person will seek out help and access resources. However, all that we can do is point them in the right direction. Whether or not they make the call or walk through the doors to get help is completely out of our control. All that we can do is continue to check in, lend a listening ear, and encourage them to keep talking. Lastly, we then need to take care of our own emotional needs through this challenging time.
4. As adults we need to lead the way
Silence is not the answer. If we as adults can’t have these difficult conversations about suicide, then why would the next generation? If we can’t put a voice to our own pain, and if we can’t reach out for help when we are struggling, then why would they? Kids are always watching.
Ironically, one of the events that saved me from suicide was having lost my best friend to suicide. The following video highlights some of these lessons.
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