Asking for help can be extremely difficult, especially when it comes to matters of our mental health. This is because of the long-standing stigma held in our society about mental health and particularly, suicide. Mental health concerns have historically been neither acknowledged nor understood to be just as debilitating as physical illness.
The good news is, that’s changing. People are beginning to have the conversation about mental health and suicide prevention. This helps us all feel somewhat more willing to talk to a good friend or partner, or a trusted work colleague about our mental wellbeing or thoughts of suicide. In fact, we need to seek help for ourselves, in order to find contentment and balance in our lives. This also makes us better able to support others.
Important to remember
- We cannot blame ourselves! Being unwell, physically or mentally, is not a sign of weakness: looking for help is a sign of strength.
- The first step to realizing suicide is not the only option is to ask for help!
- Help is always available! Call or text your local crisis line, or call 2-1-1 for other mental health resources in your community.
- If you are met by a person who is not helpful, try again. Not everyone is mentally strong enough to help someone else who is struggling – so you may need to seek out help in different ways. But you will find it!
How to ask for help
When you ask for help, try to clearly express how much you are struggling. You can start with talking about the difficulties you are currently facing, and explain the effects your struggles are having on your life. This is difficult! Be kind to yourself. Most importantly, clearly say that you are thinking of suicide. This will let the other person know that you are in crisis, and need help right away.
If you find talking to a loved one too difficult, call a distress centre. They can connect you to professional help.
Here are some ways to ask for help
How to talk to a friend, partner, family member
“I need to tell you something really important. My life is really hard right now, and I’m not doing so well. There’s lots of things going on and I’m not sure I can handle it anymore. Lately I’ve been thinking about suicide.”
“I really need help. You know how we’ve talked about all the bad things going on in my life? There’s one part I haven’t told you. It’s so hard right now that sometimes I think the only answer is suicide.”
“Some really hard things are going on right now. I’m so sad I don’t know what to do. It’s so bad I’m wondering if I should kill myself.”
How to talk to a doctor or counsellor
“I’m here because I need help. My life is really tough right now. It’s so hard that I’m thinking about suicide.”
“I wanted to talk to you because there’s something in my life that I need help with. I’m going through a lot of painful things right now, and sometimes it gets so bad that I think the only way to deal with it is to kill myself.”
How to talk/text a crisis line
“Hi. I called because I need some help. I’m going through some things that are tough and it sometimes feels like I can’t take it anymore. It’s so bad there are times I think about suicide.”
“Hi. Things are really hard right now. I’m thinking about killing myself.”
Asking for help is a sign of strength
As you are well aware, asking for help is not easy. By asking for help, we are making ourselves vulnerable to others, and this takes immense strength. Not only does reaching out for help require strength, but so too does speaking with someone openly about your mental health issues. The fact is, there are very few people who have not suffered from poor mental health at some time or another. You will likely find that when you open up to someone, they will have a story of their own. By starting a conversation, you are creating a safe space for them to open up as well.
Crisis Centres in Canada
If your area does not have a crisis centre, reach out to your doctor, your family members, your friends, anyone you feel comfortable sharing with. If you need immediate assistance, don’t hesitate to go to your local hospital or call 9-1-1 (or your regional equivalent). Help is not always easy to find but it is out there! Don’t give up.
Do you know someone who is suicidal? Consult our How to help save a life guide for tips on how to connect them with help.
CMHA Toronto.(2017). Preventing Suicide. Retrieved from https://toronto.cmha.ca/documents/preventing-suicide/
Beyondblue.(2016). Have the conversation. Retrieved from https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/have-the-conversation