I’m a healthy and stable guy. I lead a lifestyle I enjoy, have a job I’m passionate for and a friendship group I hold dear to me. I’m happy, positive about where I am in life and optimistic for the future. Even when times are bad, like when my father passed suddenly, I channelled the experience into something positive – focusing on how much he had done for me and using that as a drive to succeed further.
Unfortunately, my partner doesn’t have it so easy. She suffers a lot of the bad things in the world – depression, anxiety, self-injury. But it’s okay, because I love her, and being able to help her through her bad times, seeing her feel confident and resist self-injury is the most rewarding and fulfilling part of my life. I like to think that I’m sharing my ‘lucky gift’ – my mental health and stability – with her and giving her a weapon to overcome her inner demons. She may never be completely free of these ailments and they will always play a role in our relationship, but together we can overcome the worst of it and come out stronger at the end of it. However, whilst I’m empathetic and open to the days of unexpected sadness and episodes of self-injury, there is still one demon which is harder to understand and come to terms to with. Suicidal ideation.
Suicide. It changes the context. The dynamic. The reason you were doing all of this. Having built a relationship about working together, she considers leaving it – for good – a viable option to her. With suicide, my role feels as though it is dissolved. I’m not needed to be her support, to raise her confidence and cheer her up. It’s no longer about us working together, but instead her fending for herself and me being left alone. Despite multiple conversations on the topic, I don’t understand how she can feel suicide is a viable option. This changes and challenges my understanding of our life together, where I plan to be in years to come – nothing is stable and that scares me.
But if I feel unstable, how must she feel? Thoughts aren’t a choice, and suicidal ideation isn’t something your partner chooses or wants to engage with. I still have a role – to stop her thoughts becoming actions. When we discussed how her suicide ideation made me feel, I told her how much she means to me and it gave her a reason to resist suicide. She explained how it feels to her, and it helped me understand this wasn’t something I should feel uncomfortable about – that such a mind-set was not beneficial to each of us. Open and honest discussion breeds understanding, which is all a relationship needs to move forward and overcome its challenges, even suicide ideation.
It’s hard to feel as though you can’t help stop suicide, but as partners, we are in very strong places to do so.
Be passionate and caring for your other half, and be passionate and caring for yourself.
Recognise there are things you can’t cope with, as there is for your partner, and share this burden between you.
Talk to them openly about struggles, suicide and relationships.
First, we would like to thank the author for sharing his experience of living and loving someone who has suicidal thoughts. Suicidal ideation is one of the most difficult circumstances to deal with – for both those who experience it directly and for all those who this experience touches; their family, partners, friends, carers, colleagues (etc). Considering the possibility of losing a loved one by suicide is a terrifying reality and may bring a mix of different feelings: anxiety regarding the fear that the person will take their own life; a sense of defeat related to the idea that they could not stop their loved one from having suicidal thoughts; rejection as an effect of the beloved’s wish to die (or to escape) and, therefore, abandon this world behind; anger for feeling rejected and not being able to immediately solve the issue. These feelings are not uncommon, and their existence expresses how much someone cares for their beloved.
At the beginning of this blog, the anonymous author makes it clear that he has a healthy and stable life. Still, he also acknowledges he feels like he is being left alone, and is not needed. Although a partner, family member, friend, carer (etc) may have healthy and stable mental health, it is extremely important that those supporting someone are aware (and indeed perhaps encouraged) to seek guidance, input and, where necessary, professional help when facing the difficulty of understanding and living with, their loved ones’ suicidal thoughts and feelings. Talking openly, and sensitively, to your loved one about your struggles is really important, but professional support is available too. This support can be important to help us to understand how suicidal thoughts work and what is the best approach to deal with it. Professional help can also be an important, and appropriate, avenue through which to express and ventilate thoughts and feelings. As a starting point, mental health charities such as rethink and Mind offer some useful guidance.
While experiencing suicidal thoughts, and supporting a loved one who is experiencing suicidality, are undoubtedly concerning and demanding experiences, it is vital to remain aware that suicide is preventable. The reduction and eradication of suicidal ideation is achievable. The development and strengthening of coping strategies are possible. There is hope. People can, and do recover and there are people, resources and guidance available to support all those affected during this process.