When you know that a suicide attempt survivor has been pushed to their edge, supporting them afterwards may seem daunting, but it’s important that attempt survivors have external support. They may be confused about what to do next, feel shame, misunderstood or alone, and isolation can be deadly.

Much like suicide, there exists a stigma around anyone who has attempted to take his or her own life, and survived. Understanding their mindset may be the first step in ending this stigma, but real understanding can only come from being there for those still struggling. To help end this stigma, we’re sharing some tips on how you can support an attempt survivor, whether they are a spouse, child, relative, loved one, friend, or anyone else.

Be present and listen

At this time, one of the most powerful things you can do to support a survivor is simply giving them your time. Maybe you don’t know what to say yet, but just being available, present and willing to listen can help re-establish trust. If you cannot be face-to-face there are plenty of other ways to connect. Skype, FaceTime, phone calls, emails, text and social media are all effective ways to be supportive.

Keep them engaged

Doing something with your loved one to help them keep busy and connected with others can help prevent feelings of loneliness and isolation. They can also help alleviate stress, anxiety, depression and other emotional pains. Here are a few to try:

  • Go for a walk together
  • See a movie
  • Visit a friend or family member
  • Spend time outdoors
  • Take a yoga class
  • Go shopping
  • Participate in an art class together

Share hope

Hope comes in many forms and is different for everyone. Help survivors identify what gives them hope and then hold on to it. Despair can disconnect people from hope leaving them feeling lost and isolated. Help your loved one discover their source of help by asking them one or more of these questions:

  • Who are the most hopeful people you have known in your life?
  • Who would you call to help with your hope right now?
  • Close your eyes and try to imagine a picture of hope, what do you see?

For more on hope, click here.

For more information on supporting a suicide attempt survivor, click here.

Know someone that needs help? Here is a list of each province’s crisis centres.

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