It’s been happening for weeks now.
The rapid onset of Christmas began around October in some retail stores, and was fortified by the recent “Black Friday” sales.
Suddenly, as if we weren’t already under enough stress, our minds and hearts are pulled towards presents, pressure, and performance.
For anyone feeling broke, vulnerable, lonely, or burnt out, ‘peak times’ such as Christmas are not much fun at all - so much so that in extreme cases, some consider ‘ending it all’. Clinically, this is known as ‘suicidal ideation’.
Suicidal ideation is the process of thinking about, considering, or planning suicide, and can be brought on by a deep and abiding sense of inadequacy, self-loathing, making unfavorable comparisons with others, holding to an unrealistic ideal or expectation, and even being ungrateful for what we already have (any of these sound familiar around this time of year?).
But they don’t need experts – they just need your eyes, ears, and kindness. Suicidal ideation is pretty easy to spot, if you know what to look for.
A person may talk about wishing to die. They may research methods of self harm, talk about feeling helpless, or purposeless, or feeling trapped, or being in ‘unbearable’ pain. They may state “I don’t want to be a burden”, increase their use of alcohol or drugs, drastically alter their sleeping patterns, withdraw from friends or family, experience bouts of rage and revenge thinking, become reckless in their behaviour, and most alarmingly, experience a sudden bright lift in mood after a period of despair (they may have made a decision to act on the suicidal ideation, and the decision brings relief).
Kindness is pretty easy to do too, if you feel confident in being so.