We all have to help others through suicide distress says our expert Caitriona

By Caitriona McMahon

Upon discovery of someone in suicidal distress the first thing you should do is take a deep breath and centre yourself.

As a society we are pre-programmed to panic if such a situation arose. The word suicide terrifies most people myself included until recent years.

A taboo exists that be mentioning the word ‘suicide’ we could plant the idea in someone’s head as though it were contagious.

Then of course there is the fear of sticking our nose into someone else’s business and as a result getting it taken off us in one fast swoop.

But The number 1 reason mentioning suicide creates such fear I believe is a lack of education around the topic. You see we fear what we do not understand.

As someone who has been suicidal I now want to help you to understand and not fear opening conversations around suicide. I have picked some common questions I have been asked and added my answers.

Why would someone want to end their life?

When I experienced suicidal thoughts I did not want to die but I could no longer go on living in such deep emotional pain. I couldn’t escape it, it followed me everywhere.

I felt I had no other option I was completely exhausted. It wasn’t until after someone intervened and said I
will help you get help that I could see things differently. Two heads are always better than
one.

What if I plant the idea of suicide in someone’s head?

You cannot plant the idea of suicide in someone’s head. Ending a life is a huge decision and one that is not taken likely. You certainly couldn’t have planted it in mine.

We as people are not that persuasive unless we are in deep pain suicide would not be considered.

When I was confronted and asked direct if I was suicidal I felt a sense of panic but also relief knowing that someone else noticed what I was going through. It was a turning point.

What if I say the wrong thing?

There was no wrong thing that anyone could have said to me. The only thing that would have made how I was feeling worse was if someone knew how I felt and turned their back or looked the other way.

Simply express your concern and reassure the person you are there for them.

Caitriona McMahon encourages communities to come together to help those suffering in silence
Caitriona McMahon encourages communities to come together to help those suffering in silence

What if they shout at me for interfering?

If you believe after speaking with the person that they are not in distress then having some swear words thrown at you is a small price to pay for knowing someone is safe.

If you think they are not safe then get help immediately . Express you care and reassure them you are there for them.
How can we access help?

You can go with them to their GP , contact out of hours doctor or the local emergency department. They can also access help through Pieta House without a doctors referral.

The suicide intervention team I co founded Community Crisis Response Team can also assist you on their crisis line 085 1777631 from 5pm to 6am.  We are currently travelling to the location of anyone in distress in the Limerick area but offer support nationwide.

You see suicide prevention starts with you, me and each member of our community. It doesn’t lie with the main services or one particular organisation rather it lies with the entire community.  Together we can save lives.

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