In 2012, I lost a friend to suicide. The scene of that instance when I received the news of my friend’s departure still etched on my memory till today. I recall sitting on the upper deck of a double decker bus on my way home and tears uncontrollably flowed down my cheeks. I did not care about the stares and the judgements passed by other commuters.
I knew then that no words could describe what I was feeling because there wasn’t a single emotion but instead, I felt a myriad of negative emotions within me.
It was only through the training at SOS and personally listening to every individual stories, that I learnt people in crisis often are overwhelmed with the negativity within them to a point where they can no longer cope any further that they resort to contemplate suicide. There will never be a single reason, or a specific group of people more vulnerable to thoughts of suicide.
We so often hear phrases like “things will get better” and “if I can do it, so can you”. These phrases may seem like harmless encouragements, but they are unnecessary diversions away from the feelings of the individual in a crisis. Not understanding that everyone’s experience is special on its own, people often brush aside another’s feelings as irrational or even downplay the severity of a problem. When we encounter constant episodes of having one’s own emotions undermined in times of crisis, it is inevitable to experience an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and worthlessness.
“It may sound very stupid to you, but..” This opening statement is so common over the SOS hotline that I always wondered how many times have the callers’ feelings been dismissed by their loved ones before they reached out to us?
Till this very moment, I can never say that I understand how it feels to be stuck in the abyss. But now, I hope by lending an empathetic ear to the callers into SOS’ 24-hour hotline, I can walk the journey together with our callers, to let them know that they are not alone in this world - something I was not able to do for my friend.
Some calls start with lots of crying, some with absolute silence. Some calls were made by teens, some by lonely elderly. Some calls are short, while others are long. No two calls will ever be the same. When the call ends with a simple “thank you for listening”, it still gives me goose bumps. Knowing that while I may never know these callers personally, they opened their hearts and entrusted me with secrets they will never speak of.
Every call is a different journey. A journey alongside someone I will never know. No matter how long that journey might be, the presence of someone being there can possibly shine on a ray of hope.
Some may say that we save lives. To that I say: we are no heroes, we are merely doing what the friends and family of our callers cannot do for them - to listen.
KNOW SOMEONE WHO MAY BE FACING A CRISIS OR GOING THROUGH A TOUGH TIME? LEARN WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP SOMEONE IN CRISIS, OR FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR SERVICES HERE.