It’s a “well known fact” that self harm and/or suicide attempts are a cry for help. Not telling someone you wished you were dead or announcing you want to kill yourself, but actual attempts/actions that leave scars. What I’m am fast discovering is sometimes (most times in my case) the “help” that gets offered is not on the positive side. Be it because most people are emotionally inadequate at effectively dealing with depression in loved ones or they really don’t care,
what usually happens is the feelings, actions, and words are used against the person, driving them deeper into the abyss under the guise of “toughening them up” or “waking them up to reality”. At a time when a person is most mentally and emotionally vulnerable, challenging them to “snap out of it” is not the help the cries are looking to enlist.
It’s a known fact that depression hurts on many levels and more than anything all that a depressed person needs is for the “pain”, whether real or “imagined”, to stop. All they’re seeking is someone to help make sense of what they can’t seem to get their head around; a plausible solution that isn’t as forth coming in their own heads as it is in the minds of outsiders. It’s easier said than done to just “get over it” when you’re aware what “it” is to begin with, and not knowing brings a stigma that compounds the cycle. Being told or treated as if you’re weak for feeling helpless to this damaging force compounds the pain. Being told you need to “get it together”, “straighten up”, “stop feeling sorry for yourself”, or just being left alone to try to deal with it all… That’s not help. That’s a form of pressure that may as well be murder for some.
Pressure has been known to create really great things like diamonds, and stream powered engines that have revolutionized our nation’s industry. Pressure has also been known to push people to reach their greatest potential and succeed in ways they never dreamed imaginable. But for someone who is hurting, crying out for that pain to go away, searching for a snippet of humanity to understand and help, pressure and stress can very well play the catalyst for slit wrists, swallowed pills, or self inflicted bullet wounds of a fatal nature.
If at sometime in your life you’re faced with a friend, family member, or lover who you know is on the brink of self destruction please be aware that “demanding” that they feel better does more harm than good. Pushing their feelings or actions off as simply attention seeking behaviour or just hoping and wishing they’ll “get better” while you offer platitudes, or worse, do nothing, does not help. It’s not an issue of not loving themselves enough or not feeling they are worthy, it is an issue of just getting the pain to stop. That is the help they’re crying for.