Parent Corner: Perinatal Suicide; Talk About It

Let’s be honest: we don’t like to talk about suicide. It’s a taboo subject for most of us. But the reality is that some people do feel so hopeless that to them, leaving this world seems like the only way things will get better. Sometimes they think they could never feel better and that burden is hard to live with. Feeling hopeless doesn’t mean you’re thinking about suicide, but too many people are thinking about it and making plans. So even though it makes us uncomfortable, we have to talk about it.

If you are someone who is feeling hopeless, feeling like your loved ones would be better without you, like there is no other way out of this pain–tell someone right now (even if you aren’t thinking about suicide): your partner, your doctor, 911, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1.800.273.8255). You are important and YOU CAN FEEL BETTER. Yes, this is scary (maybe the scariest thing you’ve ever experienced) and there are many unknowns. These feelings are not something you can fight on your own. Lean on your support people, and if you don’t feel like you have support people, call the Suicide hotline (1.888.273.8255) and let them help you find support. You can even use their 24/7 chat line if you feel more comfortable asking for help that way. Help is available immediately. No shame. No stigma. By getting help, you are showing how strong you really are.

Maybe you’re a partner or other loved one watching someone go through depression or another mood disorder. You might have seen some signs of suicidal ideation like talking about feeling like a burden, talking about dying, or a significant increase in anxiety or withdrawal. (For more common signs of suicidal ideation, you can refer to this list.) Please take her seriously. Even if she is not considering suicide, it’s better to talk about it now than to wait and see. Talk openly and ask her directly, “Have you thought about hurting yourself?” Don’t ask why; no judgment please. Don’t tell her what she is or is not feeling. Do tell her who loves her and who needs her. Tell her she is not crazy and that with that help she can feel better. Do not take this on alone. Get help from a doctor, suicide hotline or call 911. And finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Find your support people while you are her support. This is a tough time for you, too, and we need you to be well.

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