Do you have someone in your life who is struggling to continue going, who is ready for the pain to end, who sees no way out, or who has openly contemplated suicide?
Suicidal thoughts are more common than you may know. We are losing 129 people a day to suicide in the US, and ending your own life is now the second leading cause of death of children ages 10-24. These statistics are staggering.
So what do we do about this? How do we respond to someone in our life who is struggling with these thoughts?
It can feel terrifying and overwhelming.
“Will I say the right thing? Will I make it worse? I don’t know how to help. I am so scared!”
These are all common thoughts and fears. Your heart is to love them and show them that you care, but how do you do that well?
How to Respond
First, remain calm. I know this may seem challenging, but your peaceful presence is a gift. Invite the Lord in, and ask Him to lead, guide, and direct your conversation.
He is faithful to give the words we need at the appropriate time.
Be present by listening intently. Be genuine and non-judgmental. Do not take on the responsibility of solving their problems; just be a safe place for them to share their hearts and openly express their fears.
We are all desperate for connection right now. By showing up and being a safe place to land, you become a blessing in their lives. You may consider going for a walk or a drive. Side-by-side connection is valuable and can be less intimidating, thus allowing someone to open up more easily.
Express your gratitude for their presence in your life and what it means to you. Discuss their worth and value. When someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts, they tend to believe their life does not matter and that it has no inherent worth. They need to hear the truth of how valuable their lives are to those who love and care for them.
Talk to your loved one about people in their life that love them. The people who can support them and will rally around them when they are struggling. Have them record these names and numbers so they can call them in times of struggle. We all need a support system in our life. Again, connection to others is key when struggling with suicidal thoughts.
If they have not sought professional help, you may say something like, “I am so thankful you have reached out to me, and I want to support you. Do you think it may also be helpful to see a counselor who may be able to address concerns that I can’t?”. You are providing support while also directing them towards those trained to help them go deeper to the root of their pain.
If your loved one has a plan to harm themselves or you think they are in danger, please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you think they may benefit from residential care, have them reach out to Mercy Multiplied. You can contact us here or find out more about our free-of-charge residential program for women ages 13-32 here.
Mercy Multiplied exists to provide opportunities for all to experience God’s unconditional love, forgiveness, and life-transforming power. We offer multiple programs and resources online and onsite designed to equip people to live free and stay free in Christ. For more information about the services we offer, click here.