National Suicide Prevention Week (September 6 – 12, 2020) is an annual campaign to inform and engage health professionals and the general public about suicide prevention and warning signs of suicide. The experience below was shared by a “liner” in the National Runaway Safeline’s crisis services center. We have changed details to protect the caller’s identity.
Robert called from his apartment. He had been doing pretty well – until today. A series of poor choices cost him his job and he anticipated several struggles in the near future. For one, he may have to downgrade his living arrangement and sell some of his possessions. His parents were going to be furious.
Robert’s relationship with his parents has always been complicated. There was plenty of love and respect, but these were shared based upon how Robert was doing. His parents did not accept failure. When Robert was succeeding, they were there with support and encouragement, but if he struggled and failed, their disappointment was obvious.
On the day Robert contacted the National Runaway Safeline’s hotline (1-800-RUNAWAY), he was thinking about suicide. Robert revealed he was tired of being disrespected by his parents. He hated they could make him feel like this, and he would rather die than face another hard patch. Robert resented the power his parents held over him.
We talked about how he would feel if someone he knew failed. How would he react if a friend called to talk about it? Robert acknowledged it is unreasonable to expect others to always succeed and he said he would want to be there for a friend or family member who needed him. He would help them recognize that failure does not mean they are a bad person; sometimes things simply do not work as we might hope or plan. Robert considered his own circumstances and understood it can be dangerous to let someone else’s expectations rule your life.
After talking through the situation, Robert resolved to rule his own life and to work towards dismissing the power his parents hold over him. He wanted to surround himself with people who love and accept him and do the same for others.
Before hanging up the phone, Robert took a deep breath. It seemed almost like a sigh of relief.
It is important people like Robert have a safe place like the National Runaway Safeline to turn for help during distressing times. Suicide ranks as the second leading cause of death for 15 to 34 year olds. We must work harder to prevent and eliminate this issue. It is often a taboo subject and people who are feeling suicidal might be afraid to burden a friend or family member with their problems. Asking for help is hard to do, but can be rewarding.
If you are in crisis, reach out to the National Runaway Safeline at 1-800-786-2929, or through NRS’ website via live chat, e-mail or public forums 1800RUNAWAY.org. We offer 24/7, free, confidential support through our crisis services.