Life & Progress

How to cope with suicidal thoughts?

 

 

World Suicide Prevention Day is an awareness day observed on 10 September every year, in order to provide worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides, with various activities around the world since 2003.

In the UK, men are three times as likely to die by suicide than women. In the Republic of Ireland, the rate is four times higher among men than women.  While there has been a reduction in the number of people completing suicide over the last ten years, the numbers are still worryingly high.  World Suicide Prevention Day aims to start the conversation about suicide and to show that recovery is possible.

  • Just try to get through today rather than focusing on the future.
  • Talk about how you are feeling with someone you trust or an emotional support helpline.
  • Contact a health professional such as your GP or Community Mental Health Team (CMHT).
  • Try to do activities you enjoy which take your mind off what you are thinking.
  • If you are in real danger of taking your own life call emergency services on 999 or go to Accident and Emergency (A&E).

Helping myself

How can I help myself now?

Don’t make a decision today

You don’t need to act on your thoughts right now. The option of taking your own life is not going to go away. You can make this decision tomorrow, next week or next month if you still want to.

Try to focus on just getting through today and not the rest of your life. You may have had these thoughts before, but you feel less able to cope today. You might find that you are more able to cope in a few days.

Look at your crisis plan

Follow your crisis plan if you have one. You may have made a crisis plan with the help of a health professional or made your own.

If you do not have a crisis plan you could make one. You can start to think of some things which you will find helpful. Keep this plan safe and change it as you need to. There is more information about how to make a crisis plan further down this page.

Look in your crisis box

A crisis box is personal to you and should be filled with items that make you feel happier about life.

If you do not have a crisis box you can make one, keep reading for some more information about crisis and how to make them.

Be aware of your triggers

Triggers are things which might make you feel worse. Triggers are different for different people. You may find that certain music, photo’s or even films can make you feel worse. Try to stay away clear of these if possible.

You could create a Wellness Action Plan to help you to be more self aware. It can help you to identify triggers in your life which may make you unwell. It may help you to write down your triggers. If you can understand what your triggers are, it can help you to be more in control of your feelings or stress levels.

You can share your Wellness Action Plan with your family or friends if you want to. Sometimes it is helpful to share with your family and friends because it can help them to understand you more.

Stay away from drugs and alcohol

Alcohol affects the parts of your brain that controls judgement, concentration, behaviour and emotions. Drinking alcohol might make you more likely to act on suicidal thoughts.

Drugs affect the way you think and feel. Different drugs have different effects. For example, cocaine can make you feel happy and more likely to take risks when you take it. But you may feel depressed after the effects stop. Other drugs can cause hallucinations, confusion and paranoia. You may be more likely to take your own life while under the influence of drugs.

Go to a safe place

Go to a place where you feel safe. Below is a list of places you could try.

  • Your bedroom
  • Mental health or spiritual centre
  • Crisis centre
  • Friend’s house
  • Library

Stay away from things you could use to harm yourself, such as razor blades or pills. If you have a lot of medication you can ask someone to keep it for you until you are back in control of your feelings.

Talk to other people

It could be helpful for you to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. There are different people who can help. You could speak to friends, family, your GP or even a work colleague.

Remember to be patient. Your friends and family may want to help but might not know how to straight away. If this happens, you should tell them what you want from them. You may want to talk about how you are feeling, or you may want them to help you get professional help.

If you do not want to talk to the people you know, you could call an emotional support line, use an emotional support app or use an online support group.

You can find details or emotional support lines and apps in the ‘Useful Contacts’ at the bottom of this page.

Be around other people

You may find it too difficult to speak to anyone at the moment. That’s ok. But try not to spend too much time alone. You could go to a shopping centre, gym, coffee shop or park. Being around people can help to keep you safe, even if they don’t know how you’re feeling.

Distract yourself

You might feel it is impossible not to focus on your suicidal thoughts or why you feel that way. If you focus on your thoughts it might make them feel stronger and harder to cope with. Try doing things that distract you. Think about what you enjoy doing.

Below are some things you could do as a distraction.

  • Read a book or magazine.
  • Exercise & set goals.
  • Watch a film or TV.
  • Go to a museum.
  • Draw or paint.
  • Listen to music.
  • Play video games. Or other games or puzzles you enjoy.
  • Singing
  • Spend time with your pet.
  • Set small goals to focus on. You could do the laundry, make a cake or tidy or organise something.

Make a list

Make a list of all the positive things about yourself and your life. It might be hard to think of these things right now, but do try. Think about your strengths and positive things other people have said about you. At the end of every day write down one thing you felt good about, something you did, or something someone did for you.

Exercise

Exercise can have a good effect on your mood and thinking. Exercise is thought to release dopamine and serotonin. These are ‘feel good’ hormones.

Relax

There are different things you could do to relax such as:

  • walk in a green space like a park.
  • listen to nature.
  • pay attention to nice smells such as coffee shops, your favourite food, a favourite perfume or soap.
  • treat yourself to a food you like and pay close attention to how it tastes, how it feels in your mouth and what you like about it, having a bath or shower.
  • looking at images that you like, such as photographs.
  • meditation or mindfulness.
  • breathing techniques or guided meditation. You can find these through a podcast or an online video website such as YouTube.

Mindfulness is a type of meditation. It is when you focus on your mind and body. It is a way of paying attention to the present moment. When you practice mindfulness, you learn to be more aware of your thoughts and feelings. Once you are more aware of your thoughts and feelings, you can learn to deal with them better.

But some people find that using mediation or mindfulness makes their suicidal thoughts worse. If this happens then stop.

You can try a breathing exercise to relax, like the one below.

Breathing exercise for you to try

Sit on a chair or on the floor. Keep your back straight and your shoulders back. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Think about how your breathing feels. Slow down your breathing as much as you can. You may find it useful to count as you inhale and exhale. If you start to have upsetting thoughts, bring your focus back to your breathing.

Think about the people you will be leaving behind

You may be thinking thoughts such as the following:

  • ‘The world would be a better place without me.’
  • ‘My family would be better without me.’
  • ‘No one would care if I’m not here.’

These thoughts are common, but not correct. You matter.

Choosing to end your life is likely to have a negative effect on those around you. Even if you do not think it will. This may be friends, family, neighbours or it may be a healthcare professional such as a doctor or support worker.

 

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