Taken from the book,”How I stayed alive when my brain was trying to kill me” by Susan Rose Blauner.

Pain is a hard thing. It can be hard to hear about; it’s even harder to experience. It’s even more difficult to be in pain when people tell you not to feel it. The suicidal thinker is in extreme mental pain. You must acknowledge it; it needs to be heard. Acknowledging the pain of a suicidal thinker is like giving her permission to breathe.

And then there was this:

I am convinced that people find it difficult to acknowledge someone else’s pain because they don’t or won’t acknowledge their own. There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling pain. It’s a part of life, like joy and excitement. It’s neither good nor bad, right nor wrong. It just is.

The author of the book suggests the following steps in how to acknowledge someone’s pain. Acknowledging the pain doesn’t mean fixing, changing or helping; it means listening.

  • Look her straight in the eye.
  • Hold her hand if it’s okay with her. If it’s not, don’t force it. Just smile.
  • Say in a loving, soft, nonjudgmental voice, “I hear your pain and I care.

That’s it.

Experts point out that suicidal ideation is frequently accompanied by a self-absorbed, uncommunicative, and withdrawn state of mind, and the individual may be reluctant to discuss what he is thinking. Nevertheless, it’s important to express empathy and concern, and to acknowledge the reality of his pain and hopelessness.