Ask the Therapist : What is the ONE important message you think people should know about suicide?
The topics revolving around suicide and death have always been a big taboo. It triggers unpleasant feelings and no one likes to talk about things that are unpleasant. I chose this topic as the talk for my "Every Mind Matters" campaign for employees in the corporate setting last month, titled "Suicide Awareness and Prevention". I believe it is very important for us to keep an eye on our workmates. Sometimes, the time we spend at the workplace is a lot more than the time we spend with our family members and friends. Before launching the talk, I worried if people would actually join but surprisingly and gratefully we had close to 300 participants registered.
"Cheryl, what is the ONE important message you think people should know about suicide, what would you say?"
My response to this is - "It is not their life that they want to end, it is the unbearable psychological and emotional pain that they want to end. The intense pain that cannot be seen, cannot be touched but can only be heard and felt. When someone is in physical pain, we would generally be more careful because we can "see" the pain. What can be seen is easier to be acknowledged than those which can't. When people are struggling with emotional pain, we can't see it and that makes us less mindful of what from us can be potentially hurtful. Keep in mind that these emotions are real - the feeling of being trapped and suffocated, the strong sense of hopelessness, helplessness and powerlessness, the sense of having nothing to look forward to in life, sense of nothing is worthy of living anymore.... so when they reach out to us, it tells us that there is a part of them still wants to live. Don't be the person who kills the hope.
Suicidal doesn't always look suicidal.
Be there for them, listen with empathy, support with care, respond with hope.
Reaching out to help, reaching out for help. "
-Cheryl Chin, Mental Health Counsellor