Saying ‘Hi’ Can Save a Life

I share the concerns of the people who observed the rise of suicide cases in the nation and in the world.  Throughout 2010 I’ve come across dozens of people, friends and clients alike, who have expressed thoughts of ending their lives; and there are a good number who have actually attempted to end it all.

Contrary to some beliefs, I want to plainly lay it out that it doesn’t require courage to attempt suicide.  No, we are not dealing with brave people.  I say this with the utmost respect and care so as not to sound insulting to the memory of those who have passed on.  I say this because I sincerely believe that the more accurately we capture and understand the character and emotional make-up of people who contemplate on suicide, the better we can help them.  Labeling suicidals are courageous people is not going to help in understanding and dealing with future cases. The fact is people contemplating suicide are often observed to be fearful, plagued by hopelessness, and depressed.  Suicide is contemplated as form of escape that serves as the easy way out of their perceived troubles.

The negative and painful emotions of fear and frustration accumulate in their consciousness to the point that they believe that there really is no way out but death.  Contemplators of suicide are simply stuck in a mental-state where negative perceptions dominate their consciousness of past memories, their present experiences and future expectations.  All orientations are interpreted as negative, painful and even meaningless.  This will lead us to see that suicidals do not just attempt suicide because of one problem or incident.  The thought of suicide comes out after the accumulation of small problems from the past that are triggered by huge stressful problems in the present coupled with a hopeless expectation of the future.

This is good news for people who care because it means that suicide builds up through a predictable process.  If this is the case, then we can prevent suicide by stopping it on its tracks.  If suicidals attempt to end their lives based on their beliefs of life’s hopelessness, then all we have to do is to reverse the process.  What happens then if we give them hope?

Hope that doesn’t lie.

Hope is not a lie.  We don’t whiff off the seriousness of their problems by saying “everything is going to be alright.”  Giving hope is simply communicating to the person that You Care.  A simple “Hi”, a simple “Hello, how are you?” will save a life.  Whether it’s from the chat room, a SMS, or a short encounter in the work place, a simple “hi” will save a life.

I say this out of experience.  I cannot exaggerate on the power of genuinely asking someone how they are.  If you notice one of your friends or colleagues feeling down and troubled, take some time to say “Hi, if you need someone to talk to, I am here.”  Is there anything magical or scientific with those words?  No.  But those are sincere words that can stop the accumulation of negative experiences and emotions in the present and put to stop the accumulation of negative expectations of the future.  A pat on the back, a small invitation for coffee, any gentle reminder that they are still cared for will bring back the hope that the future may turn out to be better and bring back the thought that maybe this life is worth living for.