We are nearing the end of February and the longer days bring with them the promise of spring. People seem a little more upbeat somehow. Spring, to me means that my world opens up and I can breathe again. I am looking forward to being outside working in my garden and listening to the many happy sounding bird songs. I love that the children spend more time outside, running off their energy. I always feel more alive as my flowers find their way back to their rightful places and the trees get reacquainted with their leaves.
I am also mindful that this time of year arrives with many people who are struggling also. I was surprised to learn that spring has the highest rate of suicide than any other time of year. I was also surprised to learn that, although women attempt suicide significantly more often than men, men have the highest death rate because they tend to use more violent means.
There are many reasons why people find themselves actually considering ending their lives. Some of these reasons may not even make sense to somebody else, but these reasons are real to someone who is depressed or to someone who has just suffered a loss, for instance.
Generally speaking, those who are feeling suicidal will try to tell someone. Maybe in a casual or off-handed way, or maybe they will just blurt it out. Either way, if you feel someone is thinking about suicide, ask them. Not everyone is comfortable talking about this and some people say they are afraid to ask because they don’t want to put the idea in their head. Statistics show that if someone is saying things like, “The world is just better off without me”; “No one cares anyway”; or, “I wish I were dead”, chances are they are already considering it, especially on the anniversary of a loss; especially if the loss was through suicide, or if they are depressed.
Asking them if they are considering killing themselves doesn’t mean that you have to know the right things to say to keep them alive. There is no right thing to say really. They just need to know that you care enough to ask and to help get them to the people who are trained to work on this issue. Sometimes they agree to go on their own, sometimes they need someone to take them, or sometimes you need to call the police to take them. It’s okay if they are angry at you because being angry is much better than being dead. So if they have made you promise not to tell anyone, tell people anyway. People who can get them to the help they need. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
There are also some very good training for those who would like to learn how to ask the question. One of them is called, “Safe Talk” and is often offered free in various communities.
Enjoy your spring everyone, be kind to each other, and stay safe.
New Leaf and community contributors