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The Proper Way To Respond To A Suicide, And Where To Get Help

Posted by on July 20, 2017 at 8:10 pm

The following is a guest post by Stabitha Christie

By the accounts I've read, Chester Bennington's death by suicide was sudden and painful for a lot of people, and a lot of people have a wide range of reactions to it.

I've seen people express everything from deep sadness, to disbelief to anger, and everything beyond and in between. And that's okay. The thing about feelings is that they pass….except, of course, when they don't. Which brings us to the most important point here:

If you or someone you care about is thinking about suicide, please reach out to someone who can help: in the United States, the national Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. International readers can find your country's number here. If someone in trouble reaches out to you, please don't try to fix the issue yourself unless you have the training. Help them get on the line with these hotlines.

That last part might seem counterintuitive, but I say it for good reason. If your social media timelines are like mine, a lot of people are reaching out today to say they're always there for anyone who needs to talk. This is a beautiful sentiment, but it's not really fair to them or their friend in trouble. Think about it this way — if a friend showed up on your porch with a gunshot wound, would you try to start surgery yourself? Suicidal ideation is just as much of a medical emergency, even if it doesn't look like it.

Instead of trying to talk it out with them, you can help by getting them to the people who can help. Stay with them, call a hotline of trained and trusted counselors, and/or take them to an ER for a higher level of care.

Suicide is a medical problem like cancer. It's so much deeper than just feeling bummed, or not appreciating things enough. Counting your blessings, gratitude lists, and thinking positive thoughts isn't going to fix it. It grows inside a person, sometimes undetected. It's not picky about who it strikes — could be a rich person, or a poor person, or a famous person, or the person sitting next to you in a restaurant. It could be caused by mental illness, but it could also be a nasty side effect of prescription medication. When it's caught early enough, there are many treatment options, and hopefully, a suicidal person can find one that works. When it's not caught in time, it's terrible.

It's okay to be angry right now (anger is, after all, one of the stages of the grieving process), but this isn't the time to be posting things about suicide being selfish. As good as it might feel right now to vent your anger and frustration online, someone you care about that you don't know has suffering silently might read it and feel worse than they already do. Today is a terrible day. Let's not make it any worse than it already is.

Love each other, everybody.

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