TW: Mentions of suicide, depression
Most times when we see our friends in school, we recognise them for their personalities and their activities within the setting of our classrooms. There’s always going to be the goofy one, the quiet one, the loud one…yet, we tend to forget that each of us deal with more than what we see, and sometimes that baggage is hidden away from the face of others.
Orange is an anime that takes place in a high school setting, where the characters receive notes from the future mainly revolving around the alluded loss of their new friend, Kakeru, who was dealing with suicidal thoughts. Each day, their future selves tell them what to do/not do, to prevent events they would eventually regret.
While we may not have the privilege of advice from the future, we can definitely take the advice of those who have walked down this path – those who have and still may be struggling with suicide loss. Here are some lessons from Orange that may help you help a friend going through suicidal thoughts:
1) Help comes in many forms
Image Credit: Anime Evo
As the athletic festival approached, everyone had the pleasure of having their parents come down to watch – except for Kakeru, whose parents were divorced and had lost his mum to suicide (which triggered his own thoughts). The gang was still determined to fill that hole and managed to invite his grandmother to the event, much to his delight and surprise.
Sometimes, with something that feels so heavy and urgent, we tend to direct our attention towards the suicidal thoughts themselves rather than where it comes from. Creating positive experiences for your friend could be in the form of celebrating birthdays, having dinner at their favourite place or taking a walk in the park – these are the little things in life that may be easier to recognise and keep us going for another day.
2) Acknowledge their feelings
Image credit: Pintrest
In this group of friends, Suwa’s relationship with Kakeru is a very honest and open one, yet sensitive and caring. He reminds Kakeru that he doesn’t have to smile when he’s hurting, but if he’s actually enjoying something, it’s okay to smile. On another episode, Suwa also directly confronts Kakeru and acknowledges Kakeru’s thoughts about death and suicide.
Of course, this only comes with much trust between both parties – this also includes trusting that your friend may actually want to get it off their chest. Acknowledging their feelings isn’t just about taking what is at face value, but also about being beside them to share their sadness and frustrations. It is a scary process for both sides to talk about especially since suicide is such a taboo topic in Singapore, but give it time, and you’ll find that creating this safe space will help to ease some guilt or feelings of being a burden.
3) You are not alone
Image credit: Reel Rundown
The story focuses on the main protagonist, Naho, who falls in love with Kakeru – she tries her best each day to overcome her timidness and do what is “right” to support Kakeru and prevent his death. Along the way, she finally learns that she isn’t the only one burdened with the knowledge of Kakeru’s fate – the team of friends start to open up to each other and work together to support Kakeru.
One of the hardest parts of the fight is feeling like you have sole responsibility to support a friend. However, with agreement from your friend, it is always helpful to reach out to other well-meaning members in your friend’s life, and create a community that empathises and supports this friend. This doesn’t just help you, but also creates a strong social circle for the person dealing with suicidal thoughts.
While we can be there to provide our love and support, it is important to recognise that there are many pillars of support which your friend can tap on to better manage their suicidal thoughts. An essential one would be to approach trained counsellors to provide a professional opinion, supported by you and other members in their social circle. Here’s how you can start that conversation to prevent suicide.
If you know a friend dealing with suicide, please consider introducing them to these channels:
Samaritans of Singapore: 1800 221-4444 (24 hours)
Institute of Mental Health: 6389-2222 (24 hours)
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800 283-7019 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)
TOUCHline: 1800 377-2252 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)
Brahm Centre Assistline: 6655-0000 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)
After hours: 8823-0000 (WhatsApp available)
Orange, official trailer