How to help someone take their own life

"It feels like my life ain't mine Who can relate?" (Logic, "1-800-273-8255")

In the years I practiced therapy, I saw a good number of people who contemplated suicide. A smaller number actually had plans to do so and, horrifically, a couple of former clients actually took their own lives.

In all my work with the U.S. military over the last decade, I've seen suicide prevention dramatically increase as a priority. This makes sense, given that in 2015, twenty active duty veterans per day took their own lives.

Interesting phrase, "took their own lives." I'm not sure of its origin, but news media still use it as a description for death by suicide. I've actually come to believe it fits quite well.

See, one common theme among suicide victims is a sense of helplessness against their pain, their despair, their enemies, or their own addictive behavior. Another common theme is an overwhelming sense of feeling trapped in a life that's out of their own control.

In the face of this helplessness, it makes some twisted sense that the only way to take full control is to exit completely. If I seemingly cannot take the reigns of my own life while alive, I'll take my own life in death.

No, I don't think this is a common conscious thought, and yes, this is a simplistic understanding of suicide, but you don't have to research all the complexities in order to help. Yesterday was Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day, and that organization puts out some great information to help each of us help anyone else find the pause, the attention, the understanding, and the professional resources to escape the clutches of suicide and take back control of their lives in a positive way.

Their main program is called "Take a Minute," and it's perfectly suited for us Pausers:

  • Take a minute to notice what is going on with you, your family, your friends and your colleagues.

  • Take a minute to reach out and start a conversation if you notice something is different.

  • Take a minute to find out what help is available for both you and others.

Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, and more teens than ever took their own lives in the last few years. Each case is different, of course, and some people are so intent that perhaps nothing would stop them.

We can't let that stop each of us from taking a minute to help someone take better control of their own life.

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