Never laugh or ignore people who talk about suicide or death. It is not a cry for help or attention as people seem to assume. Understand that this is a living breathing human who has a life, who enjoyed life, who lived a life and somewhere something went wrong. All the advice in the world would not help once “The Decision” is made. All the therapy will not help either because a person has to look at things through the sufferer’s perspective. When you listen there will always be warning signs you can easily detect if the person would actually do it or is just depressed beyond their own point of understanding.
I walked that path twice intentionally and once unintentionally. My main problem is that I overthink. So one day I registered with a site that “helps” recovering suicide victims and people who are suicidal. There was a massive questionnaire and a couple of very curious tests I had to pass to get registered. This was odd to me because the site slogan was “Talk to us at any time” but the time it took to go through that ridiculous registration process got me thinking “you know I really could have killed myself a few times”. Due to my “Survivor” status – what a word to use (from that questionnaire I had to fill) – they decide (not ask, decide) that I can handle the e-mails from the numerous people who are on the edge. Simply telling them ”Hey, I need help too, I just thought I am not doing it right and I am looking for a combination of ways that will work” did not seem to be understood. I am pretty sure my English is quite understandable. They did have qualified Psychiatrists and Psychologists – very impressive. They had been looking for a counsellor / representative for Asia. Now am I happy I was selected for this prestigious post? No. Do I have any clue what I am to write to these lost causes (that was what I thought suicide or attempted suicide cases were. I actually thought there were insane. Yeah, easy to judge, hard to accept). Am I qualified? Good heavens, no way. Repeatedly saying this to them on numerous Skype sessions did not work. The specialists did a number of IQ tests on me and on each I scored between 152 – 155 so they decided I had an extremely above average intelligence level. As for the qualification, I was told that I would just be writing to people or Skyping with them. “You will see it is part of our programme, it will help you trust us,” they said. Trust is another word that makes me laugh uncontrollably.
So, I started the work.
What I found out when people e-mailed me regarding this topic is that most were told to pray, go to the temple, see a therapist… none of which were answers they wanted. I knew that. I had been there on that side of the line. They need to know you understand, they need to know you care, and they need to know you will always be there on call 24 -7 no matter what the reason. Sometimes their reason may be silly to us, the solutions simple. But in reality they have tried those solutions and failed. What I did instead of what the guidebook recommended was: I agreed with them.
I agreed that they were correct. Then I asked “So now that we agree, what do you want me to do to help you with this task?” That confused them. That made them think. Call me a rebel but I was told to help. I stay online on the nights I am on and I answer so many questions. When you are not a professional therapist and once they get past the confusion of “me offering to help them die because I am trying it too and it just is not working so maybe a collective set of ideas may work” they know that I get them then they ask to hear my story. Now my story is like a walk through hell every time I repeat it over and over. But according to the administrators I seem to be the best “help to live” friend. They actually have a statistics sheet (say you have what now? You monitor my calls? I thought these were confidential but I am not a skilled professional so it’s quite legal). I am told that no one has died yet on my watch. Well of course that makes me a little proud. Ok who am I kidding, I am delighted by their statistics sheet and shocked at the number of calls I have responded to and emails I have written. Hundreds in less than a month. Makes you wonder why people hate life so much.
Then there are those extreme cases: those who have already done it, then and there. That is the point that we use the free number we are given to contact the administrators and they reach the relevant hospitals and police closest to the person and send for help. I have noticed that Sri Lanka so far has the highest suicide rate and yet all the messages or chat sessions I receive are from the US. I never knew that gmail/google had a call option and my computer had activated it on one of its auto-updates. When something was ringing I searched from where and I saw the blinking phone on the side of my screen. What do you tell a girl who has done a botched up job and changes her mind??? She had taken a whole prescription bottle of anti-depressants with alcohol and passed out. She woke up at some point and changed her mind. I asked her what she took and where she was. She was barely coherent enough to give me the address and name. I researched the medicine and I told her lie down, turn your head, now stick your finger down your throat and make yourself vomit. The only thing according that could save her would be an immediate stomach pump with charcoal to absorb the poison.
I am not an active member of the group now. That episode scared me. I was shaking when I called them that time and I was relieved she lived. I am yet to receive a message from a fellow Sri Lankan. The basic fact is that I will not consider suicide as an option ever again. When I post things like ‘I give up…done trying…’ I mean just that. I go in to a state of indecision and space out for a few days and shake it off. So I am ok. But I don’t forget that once, I was one of those people, a seemingly ‘lost’ cause who tried to end my life.