I was hosting a slumber party and right in the middle of giggles, champagne sips and a load television hurling jokes at us, my phone rang. I’m one of those people that like to be present where I am and often am known for not answering or even having my phone close by especially if I’m not using the camera phone.
What to do if someone you love wants to die or has attempted suicide.
But something told me to pick up. PICK UP! I excused myself into the next room, tugging my leg free from my friend’s full body grasp, playful screaming “let me go” “Let me go”. I picked up my phone with enough time to close myself into a quiet room.
“Hhhhhheeeeeellllllloooooo” I sang into the phone
“Liv” “Liv” “Liv” I heard my name, though barely audible through the sobs.
I lowered myself on a near by chair and said in a hushed and what I hoped would be soothing tone.
“ Hey…..Hey…..what is it?” “What’s wrong lover, you’re okay…deep breaths”
The voice calmer and then hysterical said “I can’t do it. I can’t do this. I’m just so tired. “
Loud painful breathless sobs filled the space of what would have been silence.
This was my friend who lived alone and was in a new place and for over a year had been having a really hard go of it. Moving to and living in a dream location had felt like a roller coaster inching up a steep incline – that great build of anticipation, and excitement of what’s on the other side. Well for my friend it’d just been all sharp twist and even sharper turns. Not the joy of letting go of the safety bar for the thrill of a free fall, and screaming with utter delight. Nope! Just whip splash and nausea.
My friend went from having the dream to having a nightmare. Jobless 5 times in one year. Homeless/coach surfing more times than I can recall, and so strapped for cash that McDonald's Dollar menu felt like buying an entrée at a five star Michelin restaurant and their best bottle of wine. It was bad Lovers.
So I just listened to the sobs. Then I said “I know… I know….I would be too.”
See, what had occurred to me was that my friend didn’t need a motivational or empowerment speech that would railroad right over the feelings that felt soo raw, that, even I almost cried on the other end of the phone. No, just a honest emphatic ear and time. Time to get it all out. To share the shadows that looked like monsters on the walls of life, and have someone – me- turn on the light and say it’s okay.
Suicide is so common for our generation. It’s one of the main reasons that I started my blog. Honestly, I get it. I get how life can be so tough that it seems easier to leave it, by death, especially if you can’t find a real reason for your perpetual sadness or what you did to make life become so out of whack.
As a friend our roles are so vital that it’s so important that we know what to do if a friend wants to die or attempts suicide.
1. Be empathetic. We aren’t all made the same. Don’t minimize your friends feelings about their circumstances. Things that might cause me heart ache aren’t the same things that might cause you heart ache or question the meaning of life. As friends it’s important to honor the experience the person is sharing with you.
2. Don’t make it a “thing”. Sometimes bad days are just really really bad. As friends we have to make room for the “shadow” selves of our friends and ourselves. That way there is space to talk about the negative and tough things that are challenging and threaten to take our peace of mind. Have an honesty party, NOT PITY PARTY, and at this party honestly talk as trusted friends where you are in your personal life and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
3. Suggest a counselor. Sometimes it’s good to talk to a professional. What may seem like a bad day and constant mood swings could actually be more than just bad days. Even if it’s not more than that, counseling is beneficial because it’s an opportunity to gain more coping skills, the skills that help us deal with the ups and downs of life. With more coping skills suicide becomes less of an option.
My friend almost committed suicide, on the night I shared above. I did everything I’m sharing with you here and we also prayed before getting off the phone. I also, let my friend know I would be calling an hour later and that I expected them to pick up, they did. When my friend picked up the phone, sounding a lot better, I knew everything would be ok.
I got an e-mail asking me “What to do when you have a friend that doesn’t want to live anymore?” I pray this is helpful. I’ll be talking more about suicide on the blog because it is something that needs to be a larger conversation so that we bring it into the light, and each of us be equipped to help someone else carry on.
what would you add to this list? Have you had this concern for a friend or maybe even been here yourself? Let me know in the comments!
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