Self-destructiveness

Juhani has a 27-year-old son called Tommi, they both live in Jyväskylä. Tommi has seemed gloomy and depressed for a long time. He has not seen his friends or relatives for over a month. Now Tommi has sent a text message to his father, saying: “I’m so sorry, I’m tired of living, everything seems so dark and pointless.” Based on Tommi’s text message, Juhani is afraid he might kill himself.

What can Tommi and his father Juhani do?

First of all, Juhani should call Tommi and ask him where he is. If Tommi answers and tells him where he is, at home for example, Juhani should go there. If Tommi does not answer, Juhani should leave him a message, asking Tommi to get in touch as soon as possible.

Then, Juhani can call directly to the public emergency number 112. The Telephone Health Service 09 10023 also offers help with acute situations; the service is open 24 hours a day. These numbers provide Juhani with more detailed instructions on how to act when his son is in danger of committing suicide and cannot be reached by phone.

If Juhani can reach his son, they should seek professional help together, as soon as possible. There is a 24-hour on-duty health care centre and psychiatric ward in every municipality or its neighbouring town. If Tommi is in bad condition, it is important to get treatment quickly. The contact information for your local on-duty health care centre and psychiatric ward can be found on the web pages for municipal health care services. In addition, the on-duty Health Service Telephone 09 10023, open 24 hours a day, provides information about on-duty health care centres. Also, the National Crisis Hotline, 01019 5202, can be contacted to discuss the situation and ask for instructions on how to seek help.

If Tommi refuses to seek professional help, the situation will be very difficult to Juhani. He should try to persuade Tommi to seek help and encourage him to believe that it is possible to find the right kind of treatment. There are efficient treatment methods for Tommi’s possible depression, such as medication and psychotherapy. Read more about depression and its treatment.

It would be good if Juhani could discuss Tommi’s self-destructive thoughts openly with Tommi, even if it feels difficult at first. Asking about the self-destructive thoughts does not mean you are encouraging the person to act them out. It may be a relief to Tommi to be able to talk openly about his feelings and thoughts and Juhani could feel less uncertain over Tommi’s thoughts.

However, the most important thing is that Tommi receives professional help for his problems. Juhani cannot look after Tommi forever, and it is not his job to do so. You can never carry all of the problems of others on your shoulders, not even when the other person is your own grown child.

A significant part of Finns have had self-destructive thoughts at some point in their lives. The majority of them have overcome these thoughts and are very glad that they are still alive. Even in the darkest moments, you should try to look forward. There will be a time when the suicidal thoughts become the past and life feels worth living again.