• James McNeil

Best things to say (part 2)

In the previous post, you read about some good things to say to someone who is struggling. Today I’d like to look at three more phrases that can help open the door so you can support someone you care about. It is important to understand these are not cure-all phrases. Using these does not guarantee things will automatically "work out." But these words spoken from a sincere person can help.

· “You are not alone.” When I was struggling with suicidal thoughts, the one thing I felt was alone. Even in a crowded room, I always felt alone, and it drained me. I felt as though I could not depend on anyone around me, and I was on my own. When I returned to college at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington (UNCW), I started to understand that I was not alone. It wasn’t simply from what they said but from the support my fellow student veterans gave me. So this is a very good thing to say, but only if you’re prepared to back it up with action.

· “So, what you’re saying is…” Repeating your friend’s words back to them shows that you are truly listening. However, it cannot be emphasized strongly enough that you need to listen without judgment. This can be tricky, and it can come across badly. Again, remember sincerity. If you truly want to help, this will come across.

· “You will not feel like this forever.” This is yet another take on the “time heals all wounds” that could be toxic. This one works, however, because of the way it takes the focus off the struggle and puts it to a hope in the future. Just like the others, don’t say this if you don’t mean it, and demonstrate that you mean what you say. But this one phrase helped me when I was struggling during my first semester at UNCW. It helped me remember that I would be able to overcome the struggles I was facing.

There are other helpful things we can say when someone is struggling, but the key isn’t what you say. It’s that you are there and that you listen. It’s also in your sincerity when you do. Together, we can put suicide in the rear-view mirror where it belongs.

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