A wise friend once told me that even the most negative of character traits can be helpful, in the right circumstances. Take, for example, procrastination. Also known, by those of us who use spellcheckers a lot, as delay.
Today (10 September) is World Suicide Prevention Day, as per the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) As anyone who has tried or considered killing themselves, been bereaved by suicide, or worked in mental health would tell you, every day is suicide prevention day. So is every minute.
As someone who has tried to kill herself, and nearly succeeded, when it comes to feeling suicidal, delay can be good.
Want to die? Thought of a way to do it? Then hold on, and wait. Delay taking any kind of action long enough to think of what, for you, is at least one good reason to keep going, if only for awhile. Delay long enough to contact a friend, lover (ex even, depending on your relationship with them), relative, mental health worker, and/or helpline. Delay long enough to do something positive for yourself, such as have a drink of water or a cuppa, a meal, a bath, get dressed, watch a DVD or a clip of something you love. To rant out loud, over the phone to that friend, or on paper.
Delay, until you can get help, create your own help, or the mood passes. It doesn’t have to pass entirely. Just enough to keep going, to stay alive. It’s perfectly possible to spend comparatively long periods of time wanting to die, without actually doing anything about it.
How do I know this? Because I’ve done it. Because I’ve lived that way, off and on, for over a decade, now.
If the above sounds like a place of total despair, it’s not. Because whilst I wanted to die, I wasn’t dead. “Where’s there life, there’s hope” – cheesy sounding, yet, like a lot of cheesy stuff, true.
Yet delay, so helpful to the person doing the despairing, isn’t when it comes to everyone else. If someone you care about seems hopeless, flat, emotionless, etc., don’t delay, do something. And no, I don’t mean get straight on to the ambulance service – unless your friend is actively suicidal, of course.
Usually, however, the first step is to talk. Just talk. Encourage them to do the same. Even if they react in anger, and walk away, keep talking.
Because what’s the worst thing that can happen, if you keep talking? Keep asking questions? Your friend may shout at you. But if you don’t – if you give up, or delay having that conversation – who will?
If you’ve lost a friend to suicide, and later said, “I didn’t realise”, then please, do not go down a road of guilt, blame, and the like. That’s not what this blog is about. And, sadly, suicidal people often do keep their feelings, and intentions, to themselves.
Why do we – the despairing, and suicidal – do this? That’s the subject of another blog, another time.
For now, if you’re worried about someone, please, talk to them, now. If you yourself are feeling suicidal, please, delay taking any action. And please, talk to someone. Friend, helpline, even your pet: initially, at least, it doesn’t really matter.
It’s always time to talk, it’s always time to change. And yes, there’s always hope. Even when, like faith, it’s no bigger than a mustard seed.