I struggle with depression. I don’t pretend to be an expert on it, but I do have experience in the field.
I want to talk about telling other people about my depression. I don’t always get the response that I like, or I get a response that just makes me feel worse about it. Ya, know what I mean?
So I thought that I might put together a little blog to guide people on what to do when it comes to talking to people about depression and suicide.
1) Tell them that they’re valuable to you.
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT.
If you don’t start off with how valuable and needed they are, they’re likely to assume that they aren’t. (Or at least, that’s how I operate.) Let them know that you care about them deeply and how important they are to your story.
2) Let them know that they would leave a gaping hole.
This is kind of going over the importance that they hold in life again. Let them know how their life is important in the grand scheme of things – that their life adds value to the world around them. And! That your relationship means the world to you, that it would leave a huge wound if they ever committed suicide.
3) Tell them that you’re not going anywhere.
This shows them that you’re not going to leave if they bring up difficult topics. This is your promise to be with them through thick and thin, which is something that we need to hear.
4) Let them know that you want them to get the help that they need.
Getting the help that they need is critical, especially if someone is having suicidal thoughts. Offer to help connect them with someone that could help manage their mental illness.
5) Speak truth on how they are going to change the world.
I believe that we each have the power to change the world (or at least, our parts of the world.) The little things we do can end up having great meaning. Think about the butterfly effect.
So please, don’t respond with “What do you have to be depressed about?” or, “I promise this would go away if you do x, y, z”. You can’t fix it, but you can be present throughout the process. And to me, that’s what matters. The people that are present.
You can’t go wrong with listening and being present.