Navigating the Darkness: Addressing Suicidal Thoughts with Compassion and Support

Created by Lori Kaniewski, LCPC, NCC, Clinical Supervisor

I am a firm believer that thoughts don’t kill people, behaviors do. Let’s talk about those thoughts more openly, together.

Life’s journey is often fraught with ups and downs, and sometimes the darkness can become overwhelming. One of the most challenging experiences a person can face is the emergence of suicidal thoughts. These thoughts can be isolating, frightening, and confusing. In this blog, we will explore the importance of discussing suicidal thoughts openly, understanding their underlying causes, offering support, and seeking professional help.

  1. Breaking the Silence: Opening up a dialogue about suicidal thoughts is essential to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. It’s crucial to remember that these thoughts are not a sign of weakness or a character flaw. They are a signal that someone is struggling and needs help. Friends, family members, and even professionals need to be prepared to listen without judgment.
  2. Understanding the Complex Nature: Suicidal thoughts can stem from a variety of factors, including mental health struggles like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. Traumatic life events, overwhelming stress, social isolation, and substance abuse can also contribute. It’s important to remember that these thoughts are often a result of a person’s overwhelming suffering and emotional pain.
  3. Providing Support: When someone opens up about their suicidal thoughts, it’s vital to offer empathetic support. Listen actively, express your concern, and let them know that you care about their well-being. Avoid trying to “fix” their problems or provide quick solutions. Instead, validate their feelings and encourage them to seek professional help.
  4. Encouraging Professional Help: While offering a listening ear is important, it’s equally essential to encourage the person to seek help from mental health professionals. We can only do so much for someone as a friend or family member. Therapists, counselors, and psychiatrists are trained to address these issues and provide the necessary treatment. At Owens & Associates Counseling & Therapy Center, we can offer this life saving support.

If the situation is urgent, do not hesitate to contact a crisis hotline (Suicide Prevention Lifeline 988, call or text), take the person to the nearest emergency room, or call 911.

  1. Creating a Safety Plan: Developing a safety plan is a crucial step in managing suicidal thoughts. This plan can include strategies for coping with distressing emotions, identifying triggers, and reaching out for support. Having a safety net in place can help someone feel more in control during moments of crisis.
  2. Promoting Self-Care: Self-care plays a significant role in managing mental health challenges. Encourage the person (and yourself) to engage in activities that bring joy, relaxation, and a sense of purpose. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and mindfulness practices can contribute to improving overall well-being.

Addressing suicidal thoughts is an urgent matter that requires understanding, compassion, and a willingness to listen. By breaking the silence, offering unwavering support, and encouraging professional help, we can help individuals navigate their darkest moments. Remember, your role as a friend, family member, or concerned individual can make a profound difference in someone’s life. Let’s work together to ensure that those struggling with suicidal thoughts find the help and hope they deserve.