Please Share with your network because it just may save somebody’s life
SISFI and The Suicide Institute breaks down the “Process of #Suicide from Ideation to Completion” with warning signs, symptoms, red flags, early and crisis intervention for prevention and postvention. Most people think of suicide as death, and only hear the word when someone kills themself, but there’s much more to suicide than the life ending by death, there is a process of experiences that involves so much more about the life of the person before choosing to end it by death. Let’s take a closer and deeper look into these things.
Most people truly find satisfaction, happiness and joy in their life and so as they live and breathe it they feel a sense of fulfillment, accomplishment and purpose. Most times we never think of anything going bad or wrong and so the bliss of happiness is what sustains our wellness and sense of purpose, pride, ego and self-worth. Then, unbeknownst to us, one day, a life disruption occurs and the happiness, peace, safety and comfort we had and felt is now being lost as a result of that disruption, and we have no control over it so we start slipping into deep emotional pain, crisis and despair. We also have to factor in preexisting conditions the person is already challenged with such as mental illness, trauma, abuse and some form of affliction that makes coping with this new life disruption even harder.
As the crisis develops, we start feeling like the world is on our shoulders and it’s hard to bear the weight of the challenges that starts to develop from the disruption. Here comes the emotional pain as the thoughts of now needing help, support, resources, Love, attention, comfort, hope and peace of mind are hard realities and needs our heart and mind is consumed by. So we start reaching out for help, support and resources by talking with people, making phone calls to providers and agencies, and anywhere that may have some kind of answer to the challenges we are facing. Sometimes in reaching out for help, the person may use subliminal messages to talk about their pain in third person or referring to a friend or family member being in that state. This is often out of fear of how people will think and feel about them being in that state. No one wants to be judged or labeled, especially in times of crisis, despair and emotional pain.
Depending on how effective and impactful the effort of seeking help results in, the person is either moving back to a state of happiness and peace within self, or, the emotional pain increases because of the lack of effective support and resources that can help them. Keeping in mind that by simply reaching out for help, one becomes vulnerable to the systems and people they open up and reach out to, and while in a state of vulnerability, they are fragile on top of and along with being/feeling broken by the life disruption. Often, the effort of seeking help can be more traumatizing, retraumatizing, victimizing and revictimizing than the life disruption we are facing and so a very sensitive humane approach is needed to meet those in despair for early intervention. As the emotional pain increases, so does hopelessness, frustration and other mental health challenges such as addiction, grief, abuse, depression, anger, violence and more at-risk behaviors. This is when self-medication becomes a serious risk and things like alcohol and drugs, opioids are introduced in an effort to help ease the emotional pain and be able to sleep at nights, or simply get some rest. At this stage, this is now crisis mode and effective intervention here is critical and requires specialized help.
Now the emotional pain becomes hard realities the person has to face which can cause one to question themselves, their beliefs, their self-worth, their purpose, if/how they fit into life, and if life is worth living. These realities starts to affect intimate relationships, family life, social status, their effective functionality on the job and other aspects of life on various levels. Sometimes the realities themselves are much harder than the pain being felt and so while they get lost in the impacts of what is happening in and around them, the emotional pain is eating away at their subconscious in ways that they may not realize (in many cases) that are self-harming and so they start breaking away from loved ones and friends, and the emotional pain turns to physical and so they are feeling it on many levels they can’t manage of understand.
With all that’s happening, the hard realities of uncontrollable physical and emotional pains, the person starts withdrawing themselves and struggle with loneliness, isolation, regrets, shame, guilt, fear and other self-esteem challenges. This loneliness isn’t one that is always seen as down and depressed, it can also be masked as happiness, contentment and joy because they care coming to peace with their plan to end the pain. Often we misconstrue the expressions we see in people because we associate laughter with happiness and sad faces with depression and pain. People mask their pain very well so you just don’t know who is truly hurting, and who you see that seems to be hurting may just be really good at releasing emotions and so not in emotional pain, just experiencing some levels of unhappiness. Unhappiness doesn’t always mean someone is in emotional pain, it could just be a situational state at the moment.
Now that the pain is reaching unbearable limits, and the heart, mind, body, soul and spirit can no longer sustain itself, the heartbroken, mind shattered, tormented spirit chooses to end their pain by death. This choice has options depending on gender, age, access to means and how one feels comfortable completing the need. Hanging, overdose and drowning are often methods used most frequently. In most cases, the person may share their thoughts about self-harm and dying with someone but was not taken seriously or given the kind of Love and support needed to help them overcome the emotions. Males complete suicide more, but females attempt more.
In every stage of the suicide process, there are red flags that signaled something is/was wrong and that help is needed. Sometimes we miss the red flags because we misconstrue what we are seeing and hearing from the person. There are The earlier we can effectively assist in the crisis stages prevents progression of getting worse and makes early intervention more successful. If we wait for things to progress to a hopeless stage then it takes much more work, efforts, Love, resources and support to get out of crisis stage. Crisis intervention adds more complications and challenges to the effort of helping people in pain and so we pray that when we meet people experiencing emotional pain they are in an early stage that the efforts to assist will be easier, more effective and viable.
Some people will go from the life disruption to completing suicide because they may have experienced trauma and hardships before and don’t want to go through it again, so as soon as the life disruption occurs, they choose to end their life before the deep emotional pains, disappointments, rejections, abuse, retraumatization and revictimization reoccurs. Some people lose themselves in the experience of the life disruption like sexual trauma/rape, domestic violence, broken heart from broken intimate relationship, loss of a pet, loss of social status, loss of employment.
Suicide is an experience of immeasurable emotional pain, hurt and danger; not just end of life. Suicide Prevention is everyone’s business 24/7s. Every breath the person takes is either easing their pain, or adding to it. We all have parts to play in helping those who are struggling and suffering with/from emotional pain, abuse, addiction, depression, trauma and despair. If one of us is hurting, we should all be hurting. You don’t have to be a mental health “professional” to help, support, encourage hope and speak life into someone who is experiencing emotional pain and wanting to die. Anyone with empathy and a willing heart in some stages of this process can be the light of hope, peace, Love and sustenance for the person. Focus on being present to allow them to express their pain so their heart and mind can be relieved of it.
— How do we end up in Emotional Pain/Crisis/Distress?
~ Life changes/challenges beyond our control such as Health, Employment, Homelessness, Divorce/Separation, Relationships (family and Intimate)
~ Death- Loss of loved one(s), pet, and how they died
~ Bullying (Physical and/or Verbal)
~ Unable to define/identify self, purpose in life
~ Religious conflicts with self, beliefs and social status
~ Impacts of disasters (self, manmade and natural)
~ Moving from a place of comfort to discomfort
~ Lack of Love, empathy, support and companionship
~ Abuse (sexual, physical, verbal, virtual, psychological)
~ Loss of control over one’s life and circumstances
~ Victimized, violated, traumatized and used
— Some Subliminal Messages of Emotional Pain, Depression and Suicide
~ I don’t want to keep living like this
~ I can’t continue living like this
~ I can’t live without him/her
~ I’m tired of this life
~ Why do I have to suffer like this
~ Nobody cares about me
~ Why can’t I be accepted as I am
~ No one understands how I feel
~ They will be better off without me
~ What’s the purpose of living
~ I’m tired of being a burden
~ I’m hurting beyond reason/control
~ It will all end soon/tomorrow
~ The pain is unbearable
~ I don’t want to ever wake up
~ I just want to fall asleep and stay asleep
~ I feel unworthy. Who am I, and why am I even here
— Here are tips on How To Help Someone In Emotional Pain/Crisis.
These tips will help to alleviate and address the emotional distress someone is experiencing or fear is coming upon them. They help assess their state of safety (physical and emotional) and if needed refer/connect them to professional help services. If you can’t help them connect them to another support resource/lifeline. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped so don’t stress over not being able to help. Just do your best to help.
~ Listen carefully and nonjudgmentally; it is their reality, not yours
~ Let them talk about feelings, hurt, wanting to die. You’ll hear reasons to live
~ They are not crazy (although may sound that way to you)
~ Never make promises you can’t keep. A promise increases anxiety, false hope
~ Everyone reacts to distress differently. Understand and respect how they do
~ Don’t threaten with hospitalization (can create more distress)
~ Don’t threaten with police/cops (fear of police can force them to self-harm)
~ Don’t use religion to scare (God says/will, it’s a sin, you’re going to hell)
~ Don’t speak down to them. Encourage hope, speak of Love and compassion
~ Don’t compare your lifetime to theirs
~~ What you went through may be similar but with different impacts
~~ If asked about your experience, share, but maintain focus on him/her
~ Move them away from area of threat/discomfort
~ Go for a walk. Find a safe place/space where they can feel more comfortable
~ Encourage positive thoughts, if even 3 things they can reflect on daily
~ Connect them with support resources/groups/hotlines
~ Do not mention stressors (you should know them if you listened carefully)
~ People who make them uncomfortable, angry, sad, frustrated
~ Circumstances that created panic, grief and loss
~ Check up on and in with them periodically to see how they are doing. Stay connected
For more information and resources about emotional pain, depression, suicide, trauma healing and recovery please visit our website at sisfi.org. Please feel free to share this information as I pray it will help bring clarity, understanding and learning to all.
~Brett A. Scudder
Suicide Attempt Survivor
President/Chairman and Crisis/Behavioral Intervention and Response Director/Trainer of SISFI, The Suicide Institute and NYC The Suicide Council