Friday, 12 October 2012

An All Too Common Case - What We Can Do

This is being reposted in its entirety from a note an intelligent friend of mine wrote today:
https://www.facebook.com/messages/?action=read&tid=Pa8yw6gAigNnI9zf3W5pqQ#!/notes/kira-spiderm-ayn/an-all-too-common-case-what-we-can-do/10151256016235907



*Trigger Warning: suicide, bullying, violence, asshattery**

http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Vancouver+area+teen+commits+suicide+after+telling+story+being+cyberbullied+with+video/7375941/story.html

The case of Amanda Todd is truly heartbreaking. The horrible actions of these bullies and the complete lack of justice are disgusting. Unfortunately hers is a story that is all too common.When a story like this comes out and everyone is reaching for the nearest box of tissues, flipping tables or clutching their pearls, I have to wonder about some things.

Where were all these crying supporters when Amanda Todd, or anyone like her, was still alive?

It is easy to say you support someone once they are dead. Too often people ignore victims (or take part in the victimization) and then come around crying when that victim has up and killed themselves. That is nothing more than a shameful grab for attention and sympathy which just further takes away from the victim.
To prevent suicides we must examine why people become suicidal, the treatment suicidal people currently face, an how we should/should not deal with these situations.

Today, let's focus on the treatment victims currently face. (The "why" topic deserves its own note)

Suicidal people are treated like criminals rather than people.
Cops are called, they are abducted from their homes under threat of arrest, they are yelled at, their coping mechanisms are taken away (if they cut), they are alienated and forced to go to hospital, they are then interrogated by "crisis workers". They are either kept there, or released to deal with this new traumatic event on their own.
It is like their mind is not their own and their lives are there to be examined and picked apart by anyone who has any questions.

They are brutalized, analysed, dehumanized and scrutinized.

This treatment further teaches the victim that (s)he cannot talk to people when (s)he is feeling upset because (s)he might be forced to undergo the same treatment again.
This effectively silences victims, thus taking away yet another coping mechanism.
That is not helpful to people who are feeling that life "is not worth it" anymore. If anything this treatment combined the new lack of major coping mechanisms makes for a more dangerous situation.

If you actually want to help someone who is, or has been, suicidal here are some things to do/not do:

DO:
-Be physically there (being alone is part of what is making them feel alienated)
-Assess the situation and their state of physical health (if they just swallowed a bottle of pills or have a very deep/life threatening cut, then get them medical help. (Small cuts don’t count here since they are often used as a coping mechanism). Be there WITH them throughout any needed medical treatment)
-Stay calm (put aside your own emotions and help them deal with theirs)
-Talk to them yourself
-Speak softly
-Listen
-Actually say that you care (list the reasons why if need be)
-Ask or let them know you are going to hug them before you do (some are triggered by touch)
-Bring them a warm and/or caffeinated beverage (this will sooth them and perk them up)
*-If you can’t be there for them that moment, set a time/date for when you can with them (then keep it)
-Follow their lead, if they want to talk listen. If they want to be distracted, then go along with that.
-Be respectful
-Let them know why they are important to the world
-Help them come up with coping mechanisms that work for them
-Be present in their lives especially after they have confided in you

Afterwards do:
-Make future plans (ie: there is a party I am going to in 2 weeks, you should come too)
-Give them time to heal, or give them space (as they request)
-Do some research of your own and be sure to take time for yourself (your health and safety is important too)
-Help make the world a better place (ie: take a stand against patriarchy/rape culture, racism, intolerance, hate, etc)
(People often don't want to "live" because our world is so messed up. It is time we all stood up to fix this world and make it a more desirable place to exist.)

DON’T:
-Threaten to call the cops/”mental health” people
-*Make it about you (there will be other times for that)
-Break up with them (If you feel you can't handle it, deal with that on your own time, the focus is on them right now. See if you can work through this together.)( If you were planning break up with them before this situation arose, you can wait a few days until they are in a safe state.)
-Make promises you can’t keep (this will only further break their trust)
-Define their situations/experiences for them
-Deny their experiences/feelings
-Try to get rid of them or distance yourself by using insults (it is NEVER EVER okay or excusable to say "you're just not worth it/my time")
-Speak over them
-Tell them how to feel or how to react
-Diminish their coping mechanisms (even if you disagree with them)
-Use the age card. (ie: but you’re so young!) Age is irrelevent and is not an indicator of how many horrors they have faced.
-Tell them that “it will get better” (you don’t know that it will, so that is lying)
-Think you can't help
-Tell them they are reacting badly/over reacting
-Tell them they aren’t “normal” (Often they are reacting normally to an abnormal and unfortunate situation)
-Shame them
-Victim blame or propagate rape culture
-Bring religion into this

If you actually want to help someone who is suicidal (while they are still alive) you ultimately have to acknowledge that you cannot fix their problems for them. All people are broken in some way, but they fix themselves. All we can do is give them the emotional support and love they need to help themselves. We need to recognize and treat these victims as humans rather than science experiments there to be examined whenever and by whomever.We as a society need to stop re-victimizing victims with threats of “mental heath” bullshit and actually start BEING THERE.

All in all, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be a “professional” to help someone out of a bad situation.
You just need to be a friend.

-Kira Ayn

2 comments:

  1. I'm just wondering... And this may sound really rude... But what are you supposed to do when someone is not really suicidal (this doesn't actually have anything to do with this blog - it just made me think about the situation I was in once and I wonder if I did the right thing). What are you supposed to do when (I'm not sure he was really suicidal) the 'suicidal' guy is an abusive rapist asshole? He said he would kill himself if I wouldn't be his girlfriend; I tried but I couldn't bear it because he had also raped me several timer before; and then a shared friend (who used to be my best friend) blamed me for "letting his suicidal friend down".

    It's been quite a while already but I don't know, I'm just confused about whether or not I did the right thing by "letting him down". It was either him or me, and for once I chose myself. Am I a horribly selfish person for this, like my "friend" claims?

    Sorry if this is too off-topic, but I just wondered about it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's not rude at all. I hope you don't mind me answering by referring you to another blog: Captain Awkward. There was a situation pretty close to this where they gave a lot of solid advice:

    http://captainawkward.com/2012/10/07/371-how-do-i-end-this-misery/

    In short, I think you probably did the right thing. That sounds like a toxic situation, and your "friend" was wrong and a shitty friend to you. I'm sorry he let you down like that and I hope you're in a better place now with a stronger support system.

    ReplyDelete