UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Crying for Help: Attention-Seeking or Survival Tactic?


If someone does not respond to your cry for help, it is in *no* way a reflection of their care for you, their love for you, or the worthiness you sustain just by being you and being alive.

Trigger Warning: Explicit mention of suicide

You may have heard the term “cry for help” before, or maybe that is your first time seeing it. The phrase means to essentially cry out vocally, face to face, or through written form, such as on social media or via paper, left in a visible area that an individual is threatening to take their own life.

All threats of suicide should be taken seriously. Whether they are posted on the Internet or joked about in person, neither location should be treated any differently.

In many ways, this article goes hand in hand with my “Attention Seeking?” piece. We cannot tell when a threat of suicide is genuine or disingenuous. That is not our call to make as civilians or bystanders, not as friends or family members either. We can gather information from the individual and deliver them to the hands of mental health and crisis intervention professionals who will run their own assessment of the individual’s unique situation and decide from there what appropriate action needs to be taken.

It may come as no surprise—from my previous article’s standpoint—that I often engage in cries for help myself. Twitter has become my newest place for doing so. If I am in crisis, I’ll go to Twitter to voice my emotions, my thoughts, and my behaviors. My WordPress blog is no longer a place I can do that because my parents read through it. Instead, I’ve taken to another Internet location to make my cries heard… if they ever do.

You see, the Internet, just as in real life, moments before you follow through on your suicidality, is not the greatest place to cry out for help.

Yes, *maybe* someone will see the post, *maybe* someone will intervene, or maybe, just maybe, someone won’t.

And if they do not, that is in *no* way a reflection of their care for you, their love for you or the worthiness you sustain just by being you and being alive.

Maybe they haven’t seen the tweet yet, maybe they missed your Facebook post in their feed, maybe they’re not on their phone, or maybe they got caught up in some work-related matter. That does *not* mean that they do not care about you, or for you, or that you matter any less to them.

Maybe the person walking by you in public doesn’t know what to do in that situation; maybe they’re so busy in their own minds that they don’t even realize a situation is taking place. Maybe that friend or that stranger is afraid to ask what you mean when you’re joking about suicide because they’re afraid it’s going to put an idea in your head (it doesn’t) or that they don’t feel comfortable having such an open and vulnerable conversation with you.

You see, there are so many factors involved. There is no one reason for a completed suicide or a suicide being threatened.

To me, crying for help means I want someone to intervene. I want someone to notice me. I want someone to care about me. I want someone to know that I’m not okay. I want someone to know where I’m at and how far I’m willing to go to show that I matter.

Crying for help to me means wanting someone to talk me out of suicide. Crying for help means someone calling my brain out on its BS and reminding me of the life I have yet to live, the things I have yet to accomplish, and the happiness buckets I have yet to fill.

I struggle often with the conflict between wanting to stand on the edge and have it be public so as to heighten my chances of someone intervening, and to stand on the edge for no one to be around so that I lessen my chances of someone intervening. I want intervention and yet I want people to just walk away.

I threaten suicide—a lot. I cry for help—a lot. And I will also act on the suicidal thoughts. I don’t believe *at all* that my suicide attempts were a cry for help. All of my suicide attempts, though misguided by far, were genuine. I thought they might kill me if the universe aligned in a particular way. They didn’t, and here’s hoping they never do.

But I can’t say that I won’t try again, somewhere down the road. I can hold onto the hope that if no one else will be there for me, I will be there for me. That I can and will advocate for myself, and get myself the help I both need and deserve. And if staying safe means hospitalization, so be it.

Please, stay safe.

If you are struggling with suicidal ideation, know that you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255, the Counseling Center in Quinn on the second floor past General Medicine, and at their 24/7 crisis line at (617) 287-5660 OR (617) 287-5690.

You are worthy of this life. Please keep fighting for it.