I FEEL SUICIDAL.
How to help someone struggling with feelings of failure, disappointment and suicide.
“I feel down a lot. Sometimes, I feel suicidal."
Said a teenager to me, after a mental health talk with his class.
"Why do you feel this way?" I replied.
He continued: I repeated a class. I feel odd with my juniors. I don't talk with them, I mostly keep to myself.
I asked, "Is there any other reason you feel this way? "No" he said.
I continued: We all fail sometimes. What matters is that we don’t let the failure keep us down, rather we get up again and take another shot at success.
Will you believe me if I told you I've repeated a class too?
Me: Yes. And it gets worse. I repeated the class again. So I spent an extra two years in school because I failed one course twice. Thankfully, I passed on my third try.
This was many years ago, all the struggle of those days is forgotten. What matters now, is that I got the degree. I rarely remember the struggle.
Similarly, one day you will look back on this moment and the struggle you passed through will look small compared to what you have achieved. But if you give up now, that one day will never come, you will miss all the great things ahead of you.
Will you let that happen?
Teen: (Smiles) No, I won't.
Me: That's my man. Remember, we all sometimes fail, and that's okay, what's not okay is that you stay in that place of failure— downcast and defeated.
Me: And one more thing, be friends with your juniors. They are now your mates, and that's okay. It may be that you will find their friendship useful, and so will they find yours.
Life is interesting, it may not be due to merely unfortunate circumstances that you are now in the same class with them. (It may all be part of God’s grand design for your life)
Teen: Thank you very much. This has been really helpful
Me: You're welcome. Give me a hug, buddy. You'll be alright.
Failure and life’s challenges hit people differently. Some take it harder than others. If you sense someone you know is struggling to overcome some painful experience, do these 7 things:
1- Reach out to them: Ask them— how do you feel about this (mention situation)?
2- Listen without judging: As they begin to speak, ask questions to get a better picture of how they see the situation and feel about it.
Listen to them deeply and resist the urge to say things like: "oh that’s not a big deal, stop being so emotional." Or, "what do you have to be sad about? There are so many people worse off than you are" Be sensitive in your responses.
Sometimes, the greatest gift you can give to people is to listen to them with understanding, compassion and without judging (concluding on a matter before hearing the facts.)
3- Show Empathy: Put yourself in their shoes and try to see the world through their eyes. Feel their pain. Remember what it was like to be 10, 18 or 25, or recall a time when you faced a similar situation. Understand why that situation hurts. Then respond from a place of understanding and compassion.
4- Help them see their situation from a positive perspective: Trust God to guide you with the right counsel to help them correctly process their situation and see it in a more positive light.
5- Ask them to suggest solutions to overcome the problem: For example: How do you think you can do better in school next term/semester? How can you learn to make better choices? How can you stop that bad habit? If there are solutions they omit, then suggest them.
6- Stay Supportive & Recommend Help: Remember, deep feelings of discouragement, emotional pain, failure, and suicide may not disappear in one conversation.
Follow up in from time to time to see how they are doing, and let them know you’re there if they need support.
If the negative feelings persist, gently suggest that they see a professional counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist (mind doctor)
7- Pray with them, and don’t stop until you see a positive change. Invite God into the situation.
For more insight to help someone dealing with failure, painful situations and suicidal thoughts, read these 4 resources:
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