Content provided by the Health & Wellness Team at GBS Benefits
This month, make it a priority to raise awareness and get involved with suicide prevention. Research shows that people who are thinking of suicide feel relieved when someone asks about them in a caring way. It’s not always easy to start a conversation or keep it going when someone says they aren’t doing well.
This article includes tips on how to respond, how to create a safe and comfortable environment, and how to build confidence to navigate these situations.
The R U OK? campaign aims to ‘inspire and empower people to meaningfully connect with those in their social circles and lend support when they are struggling with life’. They outline three steps to prepare individuals for difficult conversations with their loved ones. These steps include:
- Am I Ready?
- Am I Prepared?
- Have I Picked my Moment?
Am I Ready?
It’s important to be mentally prepared for a conversation that may involve negative thoughts or serious problems. Consider evaluating your personal mental health and moving forward with a difficult conversation only after establishing a positive headspace. Incorporate personal mental health check-ins to assess for burnout, depression, anxiety, or any other mental health struggles. Always be willing to genuinely listen and offer support.
Am I Prepared?
Understand that not everyone will be ready to talk and that they may not be looking for someone to ‘fix’ their problems. Be prepared to have a conversation with someone when they express feelings of despair or depression. You can offer support by taking them seriously and not rushing the conversation. Try not to judge — instead, acknowledge and recognize the things they are struggling with.
Pro Tip: Instead of asking someone, “How are you doing?” try to utilize statements like “You seem off today,” or “Something’s different,” or “I’m worried about you.” Statements like these can be helpful in guiding the conversation and make it difficult for individuals to divert the question with a short and typical response of “I’m fine.” Show the individual genuine concern by asking with empathy and kindness.
Have I Picked my Moment?
Choose the right moment to encourage the conversation by being mindful of an appropriate and private location and be sure there is enough time to allow the person to feel heard. If possible, try to choose a moment where that individual won’t be busy or distracted.
If appropriate, find actions that the individual can do to work through their struggles. Ask them how they would best feel supported or what they have done to navigate similar situations before. Remember, some conversations are too big for friends and family to handle alone. If this is the case, help them connect with professional help.
Help the individual feel supported and cared for by checking in regularly. Foster a genuine friendship and spend time doing fun things together. Staying in touch can make a big difference.