Suicidal Thoughts

Introduction

Many people experience feeling deeply distressed and occasionally can see no way out of the pain or hopelessness they feel, which is when taking their own life might be considered.

Common thoughts that precede suicidal behaviours:

  • ‘life will never get any different or better’
  • ‘its all just hopeless/pointless’
  • ‘the world is better off without me’
  • ‘I can’t go on any more’

Problems that lead to suicidal thinking are often complex and have been going on a long time; the problems often involve a mix of individual and social factors. Despair may develop slowly as the pressures and hurts of many years wear down a person’s self-esteem. As life becomes more distressing and difficult to bear, the thought of not being alive any longer may grow more appealing. People in suicidal crisis often feel powerless because the events and pressures in their life seem to be beyond their control, except taking their own lives. Often there is a belief that suicide is ‘the only option’; this is always untrue. There is a common idea that suicide brings relief from pain but relief is a feeling that can only be experienced by being alive. Often there is a wish to escape a situation that seems impossible to handle or they need relief from an unbearable state of mind. Sometimes a suicide attempt is a way to convey desperate feelings to others.

There will be many people who have to deal with the consequences of suicide who will be deeply affected by it.

Research shows that many of those who have made serious suicide attempts and survived have ultimately felt deeply relieved to have not ended their life.

Moving out of feeling suicidal

It is important to know that, whatever the source of your distress or depression, it is possible to feel differently, to feel better than suicidal.

Suicide can only occur where there is both opportunity and means available. If you are aware of suicidal tendencies, ensure both do not occur simultaneously, ie remove any means and stay around people. Do not indulge in drugs or alcohol that prevent clear thinking. Stop any risk-taking behaviour.

It is essential to let others know how you feel and what you are thinking about. Although you may consider you are thinking rationally, there will be other options and considerations. Despite emotional pain often seeming invisible to others, a well-selected person (perhaps a trusted friend/family member or a GP, or someone not known to you, maybe on a help-line) can be helpful to talk with and can make a difference between choosing to live or die.

It can be useful to make a pact with someone, even yourself, where you build in a delay to any suicidal actions (ie ‘I will wait 48 hours before I take any action’). For example, you may commit to telephoning someone, for instance the Samaritans, who are available 24/7. (if you don’t feel you can talk, perhaps e-mailing, texting, communicating on MSN are ways of building in delays to any action). Perhaps consider making a list of all the reasons why you have kept yourself alive until now. This may show you that you also have a will to survive. Despite maybe feeling ‘committed’ to ending life at some time, the fact that you are reading this means there is a part of you that is unsure and it is that part that must be listened to and respected.

Getting support

Immediate support: If you have taken any suicidal action, inform anyone around you and/or phone 999 for an ambulance or get yourself to a casualty ward. Specially trained nurses can be made available who will not judge you but can give some clear medical information and, if required, organise some mental health support for you.

For an urgent mental health assessment contact