World suicide prevention day was on 10th September. While this topic isn’t easy to discuss, it has graced the screens of almost everyone on social media. This reminds us to ensure that we are checking in with loved ones. It isn’t too difficult to hit a share button on Instagram or Facebook or even forward a quick email to those around us. However, sharing these posts ultimately means nothing if you fail to take action. Continue reading below to see why it is so important to check-in, and how you can do so.
Notice the Signs
Mental illness is becoming more prevalent in our modern-day society, especially with more issues to worry about. These can be aspects like family problems, work or job stressors or self-esteem issues. However, with a stigma around, people may find it hard to open up, instead of keeping it all to themselves. Unfortunately, keeping things bottled up can ultimately lead someone to be pushed over the edge when something else in the slightest bit goes wrong, otherwise known as ‘the straw on the camel’s back.’ This is exactly why world suicide prevention day exists. It is to ensure that there is enough awareness about the powerful effects of mental health and the terrible consequences that can follow. There are a few signs you can be aware of about someone and if they may be struggling such as:
- Not responding to calls or texts
- Being uninterested in what they normally would have been excited to do
- Staying home and distancing themselves
- Having trouble coping with small life stressors
- Noticing changes in their sleeping or eating routines
- Rapid mood changes such as irritability
Reminds Someone You Are There for Them
Checking in with loved ones does not have to mean that someone opens up to you and tells you they are struggling. It can simply just be reminding someone that you are there for them. Hence, if they are struggling, they know there is someone there. This can allow them to feel safe and reassured that they have a safe space to turn to. It is commonly believed that prevention is a much better option than facing the problem when it becomes too difficult to escape. This can easily be done through a comfortable space- a coffee shop or outdoors in the peace of nature.
How Can You Do This?
Communication these days is so much simpler than in the olden days. Shoot them a text, give them a phone call, or even swipe up on their story. Send a quick- how are you doing, do you want to catch up? You need not let them know that you are worried, as this may scare them off. However, a simple yet genuine message will remind them that you care.
Always make sure the person feels comfortable in the event that they start opening up. Remember that it is important that you do not judge, but listen with an open and accepting mind. You should remember that you are there as a friend and not a health professional and that you do not need to give any advice. All you need to do is just lend an ear. You are being a good friend by just being there, and letting them know that you truly care.
Help Them Figure Out Next Steps
In the event that someone has told you something upsetting or worrying, helping them figure out what to do next may help. These next steps could include assisting them in finding a professional to talk to, or helping them make modifications to their life. There is a range of therapy services available, such as face-to-face interventions, inpatient facilities, telehealth, or even online messaging services.
Encourage them to drink and eat healthily, as well as making sure that they get enough vitamin D and social interactions. Be aware, though that there is a fine balance between encouraging someone and monitoring their any move. Someone who was brave enough to open up to you does not need you breathing down their back. Instead, just be someone who sends them reminders once in a while, and is there for them if they need a pick me up.
What are My Next Steps?
Being there for someone can also sometimes mentally take a toll on you. Checking in with loved ones can also sometimes mean checking in with yourself, to make sure that you are not being entirely emotionally bombarded by your peers’ struggles. Sure, you should be present with them, but that does not mean you should neglect your own health and wellbeing. Don’t forget to do the things you love, such as seeing your friends, getting your own Vitamin D, and pursuing the hobbies that you love. Some hobbies can be included of painting, gardening, or learning a new instrument just to name a few. But just remember, checking in with a loved one is an amazing first time to lessen the rates of suicide in the world- so go you!