My son’s best friend committed suicide five weeks before his own death in an accident. Evan was devastated. He did all the right things. Evan, in essence, established a “safety plan” with his best friend. His best friend agreed to it and promised to make contact with him, the school counselor, call the crisis line, and/or call me if he should ever be suicidal. His best friend did not honor the commitment.
Evan and his best friend worked at the same place and the same shift. They enjoyed a good evening and ended the evening with a rubber band fight. They laughed and enjoyed the time together. By all appearances, his best friend was doing extremely well. The next morning, Evan was called to the principal’s office to be told the dreadful news: his best friend had gone home and hanged himself with his guitar strap.
Pay attention to any extraordinary improvement/change in another’s mood and behavior if he/she has been suicidal. Evan’s best friend’s behavior illustrates that interesting phenomenon: when mood lifts and energy increases a person is at a high risk for suicide. This may sound strange. But, it is not uncommon. There are speculations as to why this happens: The person may have experienced some improvement in his/her mood, have the energy to follow through with suicide, and are unwilling to return to the depths of depression he/she had experienced. Or, the person may have made the decision to commit suicide and feel relief that he/she is able to escape the dreadful despair that been the way of life. Remember, it is always appropriate to re-ask the question, “Are you thinking of ending your life”.
Avoid unfair, unkind, unloving, and off-putting comments, assumptions, conclusions, and judgments. I recently heard an individual say that suicide is “self-murder”. Those who have lost loved ones to suicide will find that hurtful and non-empathetic. In no way is a comment like that compassionate or helpful. Be careful to not judge or moralize with someone who might be contemplating suicide. By all means, never call anyone’s bluff. Avoid shaming, express empathy and love. It can be very helpful to ask who is important to them and who would be impacted by their death. I have found it useful to remind the person that should he/she commit suicide, h/she leaves his/her psychological skeleton in his/her survivors’ closets. The only way to escape that skeleton is to follow the path of suicide.
I have provided a small amount of information and “advice” on suicide. I hope it has been helpful. Feel free to contact me with questions, concerns, or struggles.