(Ed note, if you are struggling right now, please use the Find Help resource to find a local Suicide Prevention or Support hotline you can get in touch with for help.)
The UK Charity Samaritans have been advocating for people riding the rails to start little conversations with people who look like they might be hurting. This quote is something that I think might resonate with some of us who’ve struggled with suicidal ideas in the past.
““From my own experience, I know suicidal thoughts can be interrupted and it was the kindness behind the small talk that also made a difference to me,” he says. “That human connection made me feel seen.”
I’ve talked about this a little bit, but maybe not in detail. When I was really struggling, I can’t necessarily say that someone starting a conversation with me made the difference that day. I don’t think I was self-aware enough to know that. What I do know, however, is that being seen makes a huge difference. In my depression, I did not want to be seen. I wanted to fade away. That was the driver behind my desire, to simply not be here. To disconnect from everything in order to disconnect from the pain I was in. Small connections helped me understand what I was giving up, and why I might want to rethink that.
Even things as small as watching a baseball game to see how it ended, and how the team might do something different the next day. So someone talking about it, connected me to that same curiosity about what would happen the next day. Or who I might run into the day after that, or what kinds of things I might learn later this week from reading an online post, etc.
It’s all these little interactions that don’t solve my mental heal issues but remind me that something new is happening, and connecting me to that something new. Because when you’re connected to something, it’s just harder to consider how disconnected you are from everyone, even if all anyone did was ask you directions.
It certainly can’t hurt anything, can it? So comment on the weather to a stranger, the worst that’ll happen is they ignore you, which they were probably doing before anyway.