Most of us can relate to the situation of giving someone advice with their best interests in mind, then being frustrated when our advice goes unheeded. This could be trying to tell a friend to get out of a bad relationship and the friend deciding to stay anyways; or coaxing a sibling to not procrastinate on a big assignment only to see them delay it once more.
These types of situations are frustrating, because you just want the best for the people you love. Here’s one of the hardest situations: When you try to convince a loved one who is feeling suicidal to see a counselor, but your loved one resists the idea of getting help.
The truth is you cannot force someone to get help, no matter how much you want to. For me, I knew my loved one was hurting because they would call every week to tell me how much pain they were in, but whenever I would suggest professional help, they resisted the idea.
It was hard for numerous reasons, but a large part of it was that I didn’t know what I should do. I would listen, tell them how much they are loved, and help direct them to professional help, only to see once again that they wouldn’t get help. It was this constant circle of them struggling deeply, then calling me, and me giving the same advice, then the loved one not taking the advice.
This ended up in nothing getting better – and things would actually just worsen every week.
After doing some of my own research and reaching out to someone at Forefront, I learned that one way to get over that hurdle was to accompany the loved one to the resources. Whether it’s making the first scary call to the counselor together, or walking to the resource center together, this physical presence could really help the loved one to get the help they need. In my case, this turned out to be true.
I think the most important takeaway is that the more we know about how to engage with someone who is feeling suicidal, the more equipped we will be to get them the help they need. Luckily, many national resources, such as those listed on Forefront’s site are available by phone or by text. Additionally, Forefront provides suicide prevention training that guides us through these tough conversations.
It can be really frustrating to watch someone you love not get the help they need. I just had to remind myself to be compassionate and understand that this all part of mental illness.
— By Sydney Sifferman