Break the stigma and offer help


Christina Benavides

Suicide is a controversial topic. Even those who have never experienced it have a heavy opinion on the topic. I speak from my own experience of having suicidal thoughts due to depression, and will be discussing the signs you should be looking for within your peers to guide you toward suicide prevention.

You might assume a person is doing fine because they appear so. People who are dealing with a mental illness will not always look sad; however, there are times when it is obvious that they are not doing well.

Please do not be afraid to approach someone and ask how they are doing. A person who is considering suicide will behave differently. They might even speak differently around others, making comments about how they are better off not being around, or lose interest in things they are passionate about.

I strongly believe that mental illness is a huge factor that leads to suicide. Anyone dealing with depression who behaves similarly to the signs I am giving you may not have suicidal thoughts, however these signs may lead to suicide if they are. It is important to always be safe rather than sorry. Reach out to people who need it.

I have moments where I will not reach out simply because I do not know who to go to. Not everyone is understanding of those dealing with mental illness due to stigma surrounding it. We will not openly cry in your arms, and confess how bad we have been doing. An incident like this may occur, but often we will mostly keep it hidden.

This is a reason why most people who do commit suicide are people no one would have ever guessed. Sometimes the signs are not recognizable.

When I was in high school, a friend of mine committed suicide. I remember her battling mental illness, and some people thought she was “attention seeking” because they saw self-harm marks on her skin. Instead of people criticizing her, they could have helped her in any way they could.

Although people knew she was dealing with mental illness, her death came unexpectedly to many of us. I recall seeing her a week before she passed away. She was the happiest I had ever seen her. I thought she was finally doing better, but the result proved us all wrong.

She cannot be brought back, however with my experience, I have learned quite a few things. If someone is harming themselves, they are already in danger of dying each time they do. The signs are there in their school performance, behaviors, and personality.

I am not asking you to analyze every person you meet in your lifetime. I am saying that you should try to recognize these signs.

If you want to approach the person about it, you may in a non-judgmental way. Always trust your instincts. If someone appears to be doing terrible, be a good person and offer them a hand.

You are not a mental health counselor, so please be careful when giving advice, unless you have experience with what they are going through. Mostly you should direct them to a mental health professional. If someone confides in you, and tells you they have attempted suicide, it is not wrong if you seek help for them. It is better to not take risks.

Again, I speak from my own experience dealing with mental illness and suicidal thoughts. Not all signs are visible, but they can be recognizable if you know them.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.