Social Question

poisonedantidote's avatar

What can be done about all these suicidal people?

Asked by poisonedantidote (21611points) November 27th, 2012

In the past 2 or 3 weeks, I have come across about 20 people online who were talking about killing themselves, at least 3 of these seemed credible and serious to me.

I think suicidal people really do use the internet quite often to vent, or advertise, or seek help.

The internet seems to have 2 main reactions to people who talk about suicide. Those being to either disbelieve and mock them, or to delete their post or moderate them some how. It seems very rare that anyone actually offers up any real help or advice.

Now, I don’t really care if people want to kill themselves, specially if they are just a random stranger on the internet, but I do think there should be a way of at least giving them a chance to think about it twice before doing it.

When I look online, I find plenty of services for those who are suicidal, from the samaritans in the UK, to the national suicide prevention lifeline in the USA. However, people don’t seem to go to these services, they instead seem to gravitate towards forums and social websites.

Personally, if I was serious about killing myself, and I tried to reach out one final time before going through with it, I too would not use an official service, as I would be worried about them contacting the authorities, or just fobbing me off with their best practiced “you have so much to live for” sales pitch.

So I have been wondering, what can be done about all the suicidal people. In all the years I have been online, and all the suicide posts I have seen, I have to believe on number alone, that at least 1 person I have spoken to, or whos words I have read, has actually gone ahead with it.

Is there a global service these people can be pointed to, that does not just deal with suicidal people in their own country?

Is there a service these people can be pointed to, that will actually be used by them without fear?

Is there a way of creating a service for them, that they will be likely to use and benefit from?

What can be done in general about all the suicidal people?

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30 Answers

Pandora's avatar

As individuals the only thing we can do is be sympathetic to their condition and be very careful in what we say and be there to listen to them. I have no idea as to how to create a service for them. As you pointed out they would probably feel the same way about services that already exist.
I always thought that suicide hotlines may offer more services than just talk to people. I would think they would have the names of local services that may offer them some sort of help in their community that can continue to help them further if needed.

Unbroken's avatar

I have no idea why a international service would be any more helpful then a national one.
I personally think hotlines are awful. There was only one period of time in my life I was desperate enough ever to call one. When I needed it, when I was alone It was always closed.
I got angry and called another hotline i think it might have been a suicide hotline. They told me quite matter of factly they couldn’t help me and referred me to the hotline I had been calling.
If there’s anything worse then being rejected by a suicide hotline I am not sure what it is.

There have only been three times I had serious suicidal thoughts. Each time something different stopped me. Anger pride and reality the first time. The second time was pain, the method I chose being inaction which with my health would equal death, but I never realized how painful slow and degrading it would be.
The third time I’m not so sure I know I reached out tio a very dear friend. He helped a lot, though I didn’t say anything, wehung out a lot more then usual, he was more patient then his usual no bullshit exterior etc. Maybe it was hope or compassion.

If we can isolate the emotional triggers that cause suicidal tendencies and nourish ones that promote well being and a desire to live and fight then find out how to access them in these individuals that seems key.

poisonedantidote's avatar

@rosehips The reason I mention an international service, is in case the person who is saying they want to kill them self does not say where they are from.

For example an American could post online that he is thinking about suicide, and if I tell him to contact the samaritans, he wont be able to call them. I would need to know they are from the UK so I can suggest the samaritans, or know they are from USA to tell them to contact the suicide lifeline and so on.

Shippy's avatar

The net is overflowing with depressed people, people who cannot reach out in real life, people who feel lackign in some way. The list is endless. All of the disorders suffered by these people have suicide as a potential. I think the “done” thing is to make a list of international help numbers or ask the person their area. Then post those.

What strikes me is, though, people dont offer friendship, or an ear. I’m not sure why, perhaps they are scared they will not assist the person. I think the person would value just being heard. Just being offered a helpful hand. A friend in the dark, someone to reach out to. But of course most people can only offer that, not professional assistance. And of course most people cant be bothered anyway. Which I think is sad really. It’s also sad people are afraid to post questions that make people they feel, think lessor of them. In the end one wonders then how helpful the net is to such people. Everything then just looks pointless.

poisonedantidote's avatar

A rather scary thing I found, if you google “suicide help” you get some helplines, but if you keep on going past the first few results, you start finding pages with ways to help you kill yourself.

Shippy's avatar

@poisonedantidote That kind of sums up society and it’s attitude to the helpless or needy or apparently weak.

poisonedantidote's avatar

I do find it strange, same as sites that promote anorexia.

However, I think if I ever set up my own suicide hotline service, that it would probably also provide information on how to kill yourself.

If they really are going to do it, and nothing you can say will change it, maybe it is for the best to give them a method that is not too painful. You could also probably factor in methods that will be less taxing on the friends and family. Some kind of way that does not leave an already traumatized mother to mop up your piss because you lost control of your bladder as you died.

Shippy's avatar

@poisonedantidote Those sites should be banned, so should the pro anna’s. It amazes me after all these years how little track and policing is done on net content.

Unbroken's avatar

Any talk of censorship has me running back to george orwell, philip k dick, aldous huxley, ray bradbury, christopher buckley, and all the other distopian satirical world’s created on paper.
Not that I don’t believe these suicide assists and ana aides aren’t sick, @Shippy.

Guess I don’t have any answers. I mean all we have to do is look at China.

Shippy's avatar

@rosehips Sometimes it’s needed, like when I chance upon child porn. You know. It makes me sick. Something should be done about the content we are subjected to. (Obviously this was by accident). So do I really have to look at this crap? And it should not be censored?

Unbroken's avatar

I’m not saying your wrong @Shippy but I’m gonna play devil’s advocate and say we have to look at crap every day. It’s up to us to filter the content however we choose.
For these reasons: Sometimes there are some real gems among the crap. We disassociate with what we don’t see. Things we see every now and again become more real, raise awareness increase likihood of problem solving and commiting time to causes. For instance child porn wasn’t always illegal and it always happened the buying and selling of children, other forms of child abuse. Now you’ve seen it now you can talk about it. Further raise awareness. Now you aren’t blind to it.
Why should we be blind to the pain and suffering of others? Maybe it’s victims of child pornography that are suicidal.

Shippy's avatar

@rosehips I’ve never been blind to child pornography. I have been aware of it for some forty years. What surprises me is that photographs of children under five, which I saw, with their butts up in the air, and makeup on, are on the net. So if that is freedom of expression then so be it I guess? The ‘sad’ thing about the buying and selling of children, plus using children in the process of adult gratification is that the child has no say in the matter. So whether it is illegal or legal I give two hoots. What I care about is the growth of and encouragement of societies and the enabling of it to continue. This is done mostly these days via the net.

I’m not sure either how I am to “filter” content when I was doing a search on “curvy naked women” for a room design I was doing only to see ages 5 to 10 year old in pornographic poses.

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

For me the internet has become something of a free for all where people think that just because it is online then it’s fair game and anything goes. There is also a sense of some people feeling that they are untouchable if they post things online and there are a lot of sick people out there that will poke people with a stick just to get a reaction.

There is a thing in the UK called the Internet Watch Foundation and they have seen a huge increase in the number of complaints from people that have found websites that are just disgusting no matter if they are child pornography or sites where people are encouraging others to kill themselves and they simply cannot handle the workload as there is so much.

@rosehips people have always known that child porn and buying and selling of children has gone on and you only need to look at what is happening in the UK with the Jimmy Saville stuff where for decades he abused kids including some that were in hospital at the time. The enquiry has spread to other people and a now dead politician was revealed as having abused kids in the early 70s and there are hints of lots more to come from decades ago.

The only difference now is that somebody who likes child pornography in say New York can contact somebody who likes child pornography in Madrid at the touch of a button whereas before it was them either on their own or a small local group in their area. It means abuse is on a massive international scale and it is due to the internet that that is now the case.

Shippy's avatar

@TheProfoundPorcupine Maybe that’s why we are all so depressed our reality is so distorted.

KNOWITALL's avatar

As a society we can treat each other more kindly and with respect. As a neighbor we can spread our love and compassion through random acts of kindness and actually care about people that touch our lives. As internet friends, we can help spread positivity and love through our words.

My mom helps with a suicide line and she said lonliness is one of the biggest reasons people want to commit suicide, and to me that is so very very sad. Love each other.

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

@Shippy it probably is plus we live in a society where something bad can happen the other side of the world and if we have a news channel on we hear about it in next to no time or it pops up on Google news pages with in depth analysis. It doesn’t matter what you want to find out about as there will be a website out there with the information no matter how sad, strange, or horrible it is.

Unbroken's avatar

Great answer @Knowitall

I guess we should technically start a different thread.
I still want to reply, though.
My question is how does a society ban all child porn? I am not tech savvy so I really don’t know. Does it do it: By only allowing content they sanction?
Or by blocking all reported content of child pornography?

In which case why don’t we make it illegal in states and countries to post or sell child pornography. Also illegal to buy or store pornography?
Or if these internet filters, filter by site rating or key words then they should also be able to seek and prosecute in this manner.
Simply removing all content from viewer’s who don’t wish it seems sadder then running across it. It does nothing to solve the actual problem.

JLeslie's avatar

On fluther we often do give the toll free number for a suicide hotline to Americans. Usually people here take the poster seriously. Many times the suicidal person is young, it’s difficult for young people to believe things will change or get better. Being young means focusing on the negative, it is the way a young brain tends to work.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

What can be done about all these suicidal people?

Nothing and then something.

If you search for suicide using Google in the US, the top of the list is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It would be interesting to know if this changes based on region or country.

If you look 7 entries down the list, there is one that says “Suicide: Read this first” from Clicking on the link takes a reader to a page with some very interesting information. It has many links to other sites and helpful things.

I first said that nothing could be done about suicidal people, because quite matter of factly, if a person wants to kill himself or herself, s/he will.

Having said that, I believe there is something we can do to prevent suicide. In my own experience, humor helps enormously. Telling silly jokes, even ones that make a person grown instead of laugh, helps.

The post also questions why so many suicidal people end up on the Internet. There might be a simple reason for that. Loneliness and anonymity. It’s quite easy for people who live alone and see few people to take refuge in the Internet and its social sites. They may be more prone to give voice to their suicidal thoughts online, because they don’t have to say it out loud. They don’t have to face the shame that they feel bad when other people in their lives might suggest they should be feeling otherwise.

The only other thing I would like to say about the post is that every mention of suicide should be taken seriously. They are all a cry for help.

wundayatta's avatar

I’ve written a lot about suicide here over the years. I still have a lot to say. But I’m not sure I really want to say it because I don’t think it does any good. Maybe we need a repository for wisdom here. Type in “suicide” and you’d get all the answers over the years, organized in some useful way.

Point number one. No one wants to die. What people want is to stop the pain. Whether it’s an acute situational depression coming from the loss of a business or money or a lover or some great shame, or whether it’s the depths of a chronic depression that feels like a huge stone pressing down on your chest in a sea of darkness with darkness the size of the universe sucking out your insides and it is clear this is all you will have to experience for the rest of your life, it is easy to think only death will end the pain. You’d live if there was any other way, but you lack imagination to see another way.

Point number two. What I think will end this pain is love. I believe many other depressed people think the same thing, although most people don’t allow themselves to even think about the possibility. It is ridiculous to believe anyone could love someone as defective and useless as me (or any of the millions of other “me’s” in this situation).

Yet, if there was someone who would grab us and hold us and love us as deeply and physically as is humanly possible, that might lift the pain enough to get back on more solid footing.

Of course, who’s going to do that? You can’t love a stranger, right? Nope. Socially impossible. And what if they’re in a relationship already? That would be cheating. That is not an acceptable or doable way of saving someone.


Cry for help? That makes it seem like manipulation and I assure you that people who want to die are generally pretty sincere. Sure, there may be a few who have learned they can manipulate others with this threat, but that is generally because they feel they are so worthless that this is the only way they can get attention. They know, deep in their souls, that they don’t deserve any attention. That’s what depression does to you.

So this really pisses me off. What can be done about these fucking suicidal people? How condescending. We really are people. We’re not some problem that you throw a little cyanide at and we’ll go away. We are fucking people, and while that doesn’t count for anything, and we don’t deserve shit, none of that matters. We’re still people.

I don’t know what that means—to be a person. I don’t believe in rights. I don’t believe anyone owes us anything. But a little compassion would be nice. A little love. A little caring.

And you know what? People ar fluther do that. When I was suicidal, I got a lot of affirmations from people. I didn’t necessarily announce I was thinking about it, but people picked it up. They told me I did some worthwhile things. I didn’t believe them, but it was nice to hear, anyway. It made a difference. I’m sure a lot of people here wish they hadn’t done this, but the things that people said are partially the reason why I am still alive to be such a pain in the ass—at least for some people.

What we need is to be connected. Appreciated. Loved. To feel like we have a place.

So many of us come from backgrounds where we were raped and abused and mentally abused and told we were worthless and shouldn’t be around or we offer nothing to society and generally were given the message that we should never have been born. It’s easy to believe you are shit when that’s in your background. We’re just looking for excuses to finally kill ourselves and get it done. Even staying a live can be yet another failure in a long life of failures.

It’s all bullshit, though. It’s just thoughts. They don’t help. And with practice, you can learn what to do with those thoughts so they don’t bring you down. But at the crisis point, the one thing you need is love. Preferably in person.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@wundayatta Bless your heart, but you are so correct. One of my dear ex’s told me he’d been told he was worthless for so long that he finally believed it and quit trying in life. So sad that many people have that background.

We are all God’s children and when you feel hopeless He is always there for you even if no one else is. I know there’s a lot of ppl who aren’t believers on fluther, but I personally feel the comforting love from my heavenly father when everyone on this existential plane fail me. It’s the only way I carry on somedays with all the negativity and pain. Peace.

wundayatta's avatar

@KNOWITALL Too abstract for me. For me to feel love, it must be up close and in person.

But it gets kind of complicated. I make a statement like that, an in my head I am beating myself up for saying that. I want to call myself all sorts of nasty names for being dependent on others for love. For needing sex. For needing to be held and talked to and needing to be told I am loved over and over and over again. It just seems so pathetic.

Then I realize that line of thought is not helping me. I’m judging myself for being weak. I am creating negative feelings about love inside myself. It’s an instinct. I do it to protect myself from disappointment. You know—who would love me? It doesn’t matter how many people actually do love me, at least, not on one level. I deny it all in my head because of that deep sense of unworthiness.

But it does matter. The more people who love me, the more I come to believe I am lovable. That gives me the strength to dispense with the consideration of worthiness. If worth is a question, then I will never be worthy. So worth has to become irrelevant. And it is. It’s just an idea I use to torture myself with and I don’t have to do that.

But then I need more love than I’m allowed to have. At least, social convention doesn’t allow it to me. So the conventional answer is to try to make the most out of the love I have, and then find a way to love myself to make up for any lack. It’s a work in progress. And sometimes I fall back into depression that could perhaps be avoided if I were better at coping. So far, though, the suicide thoughts haven’t been back—at least not that seriously.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Yes, I figured it would be lol.

My mother’s advice is -“Look in the mirror every morning and say I am beautiful/ handsome, I am worthy of love and I deserve good things today”

Being needy isn’t an unattractive quality always, btw. I try to remember that there is something to love in every person, and over the years I finally think I’m learning how to accept without judgement and truly love my neighbor as myself.

To me, you are one of the most interesting people I’ve talked to on fluther! :)

LostInParadise's avatar

One theory for the reason for high suicide rates is that it is a result of our modern lifestyles. With our emphasis on individualism, we socialize less, at least in person, and have less of a connection to our neighborhoods.

I was just talking to a co-worker from Pakistan, who just came back from a visit to Karachi. He mentioned how, both in Karachi and its suburbs, people could always be found out on the streets socializing. I was curious to see how Pakistan ranked among countries in terms of suicide rate and found that its comparative rate is rather low.

I am no expert in this field and will leave off before making a fool of myself, but I bring this up as something to consider.

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL Did God provide that to you when you were a child? A teen? Or, is it something you came to as an adult?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie Did God provide what, learning not to judge and truly love? God did not provide the understanding, that came with age and experience. Learning others are insecure, scared, lonely and hurting.

Of course my mom is like the kindest person in the world now that she stopped drinking (at age 50). I actually saw so many bad things when I was young and she was an alcoholic that I kind of learned not to trust people’s innate goodness or that they had my best interests at heart, it really bent my perspective on human nature tbh.

Still to this day I prefer animals over people, but I’ve started opening up and allowing people in a little more.

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL Did God provide the comfort you mentioned to @wundayatta when you were very young? Did it feel that way to you? I have a hard time believing young children have God carry them through difficult times. I’m sure it is true for some, but for most I would think in our youth God feels very abstract. Since I was not raised with God I could obviously be mistaken, it is an assumption of mine. I think most people are very similar whether religious or not. That some of it is semantics. The religious person says faith, the nonreligious person uses hope. God has control is similar to things tend to work out. The young truly are wired to be more apt to think eveything is dire and will never get better than someone who is older. They have studied this effect. It explains why people have very different perspectives by around age 40.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie No, I was raised in church for the most part until around age 11–12, but that comfort didn’t happen until I was around age 16–17, when I converted to Catholicism from Southern Baptist. I actually thought of taking vows at one point. That was also the year I moved out of my mom’s house at 17.

Because I had a solid foundation in religion, even though I didn’t like the Hellfire & Brimstone preaching and judgement, didn’t mean I didn’t trust that God was always with me and looking out for me.

When my mom would take me to bars and wasted when I was 12 or 13, I was exposed to a lot of vulgarity, sexual innuendo, pedophiles, etc….it wasn’t pretty and she was too drunk to look out for me all the time, so I grew up quick because I was scared. She told me once when I complained that if I didn’t like someone or they were being inappropriate, I had to speak up for myself or I couldn’t go with her to the bars anymore. Yeah, I remember that very vividly, it was kind of a revelation to me that mom wouldn’t or couldn’t be who I wanted her to be, or even protect me.

If I hadn’t truly believed my Heavenly Father was always with me, I don’t know that I would have turned out to be who I am today. Sincerely. Like I’ve said before, I don’t really believe in a lot of churches, or preachers or even my fellow Christians (they often disappoint) but God never disappoints me. I don’t attend church regularly now and haven’t for years, but I pray and I trust and I believe, it works for me.

I know there are people who think God/religion/ it’s a figment of someone’s imagination, but even if that were to ultimately be proved to be true, is the comfort and moral fortitude a bad thing? It sure hasn’t been for me, for some of us, it has been our only refuge and security in a painful world.

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL To answer your question, I don’t think it is a bad thing. God seems to help a lot of people turn their life around, or feel some peace, and if it helps them, which in turn helps society, I think that is a good thing.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Exactly!! ttys.

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