Thoughts of suicide are common in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and other mental illnesses, or who are going through hardship in life. Although suicidal ideations are fairly common, they do not in and of themselves indicate that a person will actually commit suicide. That does not, however, mean they should be ignored. Even if a person is claiming thoughts of suicide “just to get attention,” those claims should always be listened to and responded to with compassion, care, and support–preferably in-person support. Ignoring suicidal “cries for attention” can lead to actual suicide.Responding can be as simple as sitting in a room with the person, holding them, sleeping near them, or giving them a hug. If you can’t be physically with them, phone calls or texts are the next best solution. But this is in response to suicidal feelings and ideations. If someone is truly suicidal, then being left alone is never an appropriate response (unless, of course, you hope for that person to die–let’s hope there’s nobody out there whose friends and family actually want them to die).
How feeling helpless helps my trauma recovery? Yes–you read the title correctly. The subject of this article is helplessness as a form of healing. If that sounds completely counter-intuitive to you, you’re not alone. I’m sure that if I had come across an article making this same claim in the past, I would have labeled it as completely ludicrous. But hear me out. If you totally disagree, you can write out your counter-argument in the comments.
Also, as you read this, I need you to understand that I’m not arguing you should intentionally bring yourself to a place of helplessness, nor that dangerous helplessness (the kind that can cause posttraumatic stress disorder–PTSD–or re-traumatization) is somehow cathartic. Instead, I want to tell you about a situation in which I was clearly helpless, and how accepting that helped me feel a little bit safer in this chaotic world.
Some people like to say that everything happens for a reason, but when it comes to suicide attempts, that line of thinking suggests some lives are more valuable than others. That some people are more deserving of life than others. But there is no “reason” to mental illness and suicide. Life, death and the trappings that come in between are not doled out based on who deserves what.