With suicide prevention month here, it is time to think about things we can do with intention to be a part of the solution…
Let’s talk about acknowledgement:
Oftentimes we try to look at the bright side of things. Encouraging people to stay strong, persevere, and focus on the positive comes with good intentions because we want our loved ones to feel better. However, the impact of that behavior includes invalidated feelings and our loved one seeing themselves as a problem to be “fixed.” The reality is that our encouragement to look on the bright side of things does not help their pain, it just makes them stop telling us about it.
What DO we say then?
I’m sorry you’re hurting right now.
Your feelings are fair.
I am here for you to listen.
Do you want to talk about it with me?
Let me know how I can help you feel supported.
As much as we would like to take people’s pain away, we can’t. In order to be the best support for people who are struggling, we must instead be willing to join them in their pain. Sitting with people in their darkness, not trying to shed light on it, that is what helps. Acknowledgement, validation, and support all help, and they culminate into a recipe that help mitigate risk factors of suicide.
Emily Salomon, LPC, NCC