fbpx Skip to main content
Blog

7 Ways You Can Support a Suicidal Loved One

Don’t underestimate the impact of your words and caring in the life of a loved one who is struggling with suicidality. Here are seven different ways you can help and support someone.

By September 8, 2022No Comments

This guest piece was written by Dr. Jacob Hess, the Research Director at JoinFortify.com, a porn addiction recovery platform and affiliate of Fight the New Drug. 5-minute read.

Seven Messages for a Suicidal Loved One

By Jacob Z. Hess, Ph.D.

When someone we love is hurting so much that they start to wonder if life is worth continuing, that can be really scary for others around them. This can be even scarier, however, if friends and family members feel there’s nothing they can do to help.

It’s pretty normal to feen unsure about how to help, especially when the person who’s struggling is dealing with the isolation and embarrassment that can come along with sexually compulsive habits. It’s equally common for people to do what they can to help—stumbling around various ideas that may or may not be all that helpful.

Related: 4 Reasons Why People with Sexual Compulsion Can Also Struggle with Suicidality

For someone who has fallen into such a dark place, there are many different things they may need to feel better.

Research has confirmed a wide variety of lifestyle patterns that can contribute to suicidality—ranging from basic components physical health (nutrition, sleep, exercise)—to past trauma, chronic stress and anything that leaves us trapped (including compulsive habits).

Fortify

Any small adjustment towards a more emotionally vibrant life can help—and so can professional support. What can you do to help, as a loved one? Are there specific things you can say that can make a difference?

In what follows, I review seven messages that have the potential to make a difference for someone stuck in this kind of a dark place. Even while we need to encourage them to get whatever external support they need, don’t underestimate the impact of your own words and caring in their life.

If any of these can make a difference for someone you love, consider ways you might be able to share them.

Related: Quitting Porn Helped in My Fight Against Depression

1. “I’m here. I’m not going away. Let’s do this together.”

Isolation can make any of us feel desperate. Make sure your loved one knows they are not alone—and that you’re there.  With them. As long as they need.

Although none of us can “be with” someone always – there are ways to signal to another person, even at a distance, that you are holding them in your heart and not forgetting them. See what you can do to send that message.

2. “Please make sure you’re taking extra good care of yourself.”

Anytime anyone is in a crisis moment, it’s easy to drop really basic building blocks of self-care: not eating, not sleeping, not getting out and moving around.

Related: Porn Tanked My Mental Health, Here’s How I Got Help (VIDEO)

As simple and obvious as it may sound, gentle reminders to “keep taking care of yourself” can be not only helpful reminders, but tangible ways to show affection. While these things are helpful for all of us, even in normal times, point out to your loved one that they may be even more important right now.

If they’re open to it, you might even encourage extra indulgences like warm bubble baths, a massage, or a meaningful movie that lifts their heart.

3. “You matter. Life matters. Your life has purpose and meaning.”

Virtually everyone considering suicide has reached a conclusion that their life holds little to no meaning and purpose anymore—it doesn’t matter.

Speak to that directly. Share your own perspective to the contrary, and how much their life matters, not only to themselves, but to the many hundreds of people they can impact in the days and years ahead.

Meditation master Jon Kabat-Zinn often says, “You have a job on the planet!” Make sure they hear that from you, too.

4. “You have incredible worth—and a beautiful future.”

More than simply having meaning and purpose, do what you can to emphasize the profound value and worth of their life as well. As some people say, “You have infinite worth.”

Related: What Past Issues Are You Trying to Escape From When You Watch Porn?

Find a way to say that in your own words—and in a way that they can tell you are genuine about it. It can make a real difference.

5. “There is hope. Tomorrow doesn’t have to be the same as today.”

Suicidality is also strongly correlated with a sense of despair and hopelessness. It’s normal for people who feel trapped by life circumstances (including their sexual habits and compulsions) to start to move into a darker state of mind.

Gentle reminders that good things can still happen, and not everything has to stay this way, can be so encouraging. Even if they don’t believe it, they may be able to hang onto your words.

BHW - The Heart

6. “You can do this. Change is possible.”

Whatever circumstances someone is facing, it can also be powerful to hear from someone their confidence—in them, in their potential to improve, do better, and overcome what they are facing. More than simply a general hope in an abstractly positive future, this is about communicating clearly your own conviction about their specific capacities.

For someone facing addictive-compulsive patterns, this can be especially reassuring to hear. Even if they’ve faced something for years, to hear reassurance from someone, like “I know this is still a struggle—but look at you. You keep getting up. You haven’t given up. And I’m proud of you for that.”

7. “There are lots of ways to decrease pain—and increase joy.”

As a final message, it can be helpful to remind people of the wide variety of ways to expand our happiness and decrease what is hurting us inside. Although that may seem simple and obvious, it’s not obvious to someone in a ton of pain.

Related: Watching Porn Might Be Making You More Lonely

So, find ways to point that out. The more they can appreciate—really appreciate—the wide scope of possible ways to find healing and relief the more “degrees of freedom” they have to pursue the same. Just like a good buffet, having lots of options itself is an encouraging thing.

Supporting a loved one

These seven messages obviously don’t have the power to dissipate the full heaviness someone may be experiencing—but they have a good chance of helping someone glimpse that this is possible one day.

Related: Why You Can Stop Feeling Like A Bad Person for Struggling With Porn

As one woman told me, “There’s a big difference between some hope and no hope.”

Let’s make sure the people we love have at least some of this hope. That is sometimes just what people need to hold on for another, better day.

There is hope. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255, or you can call or text 988.

About the Author

Jacob Hess, Ph.D., is the director of research at Fortify and Impact Suite —with a focus on key differences between short-term and long-term healing for depression, anxiety, and addiction. He has taught teens and adults Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction for a number of years, and is the lead author for “The Power of Stillness.” He has published 14 peer-reviewed studies and several books. Jacob is a former board member of the National Coalition of Dialogue & Deliberation and a founding member of the Council for Sustainable Healing. He and his wife are raising four rambunctious boys and a baby girl alongside goats, chickens, ducks, and cats.

Fight the New Drug collaborates with a variety of qualified organizations and individuals with varying personal beliefs, affiliations, and political persuasions. As FTND is a non-religious and non-legislative organization, the personal beliefs, affiliations, and persuasions of any of our team members or of those we collaborate with do not reflect or impact the mission of Fight the New Drug.

Support this resource

Thanks for reading our article! Fight the New Drug is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which means the educational resources we create are made possible through donations from people like you. Join Fighter Club for as little as $10/month and help us educate on the harms of porn!

JOIN FIGHTER CLUB