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Letís talk about suicidal thoughts
Posted by Admin
14th May 2019

When you’re in your darkest hours, suicide may seem like the only option and suicidal thoughts may act as a comfort, knowing that you have found an escape route.

Experiencing suicidal thoughts will be different for everyone: it’s common that these feelings are less about wanting to die, rather a desire to stop continuing with the life they currently lead. It’s an escape from the physical, emotional pain that one is experiencing, an escape from feeling unable to control what is happening in their life. But there is always another escape.

Whether these feelings come and go or build up gradually over time, being unable to put reason to them, or being unable to take action against the cause of these feelings, can be very distressing (but is very common).

Clinical Psychologist, Dr Anna Redding, DClinpsy says, “Suicidal thoughts are much more common than you might think. Many people will experience fleeting thoughts of suicide during times of extreme stress, or perhaps more passive thoughts of ‘it would be easier if I didn’t wake up’.

For most people, these pass quickly and are never something they would act upon. However, for some, they can linger, becoming frequent thoughts or progress to contemplating or planning on acting on them.Ӡ

Suicidal thoughts can be mentally exhausting. They can make you feel numb, overwhelmed, out of control, hopeless and most commonly, like your loved ones would be better off without you. You may feel you’ll never experience ‘normal thoughts’ again or you can’t remember what happiness feels like, and in times of utter distress, these feelings are heightened and thinking clearly is extremely difficult.

Below, Dr Anna details some quick acting strategies for coping in the moment when you feel suicidal:

-††††† Breathe: the trick is to make your out-breath longer than the in-breath to lower emotions. Aim to breathe in for five and out for seven, but if you are distressed, your breathing will be shallower, so aim for whatever count you can manage.

-††††† Grounding: get your feet on the floor (literally grounding yourself in the now) and name five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste.

-††††† Distraction: do something that will be easy enough to concentrate on but hard enough to take your mind off. Some examples include housework, colouring, baking, knitting etc. Find what works for you.

-††††† Get active: high intensity exercise for 10-20 minutes increases the heart rate and releases endorphins. A fast walk, jog, jumping jacks, star jumps, anything that you can do in the moment.

“We don’t always remember to use skills in times of stress, especially if they’re not familiar to us; the higher the emotion, the less we can think clearly.” Dr Anna suggests, “It’s really important to practice these skills, even when you don’t feel that you need them. This will help you become more familiar with these methods and you’ll be more likely to remember them when you really need them.”

It’s important to note that these coping strategies are short term, in times of crisis. Long term coping methods will come through counselling and talking therapy which can be highly beneficial in helping you make sense of why you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, and how to overcome them.

Dr Anna says, “Often suicidal thoughts offer a solution to a problem, for example relationship difficulties, overwhelming emotions, stress or trauma. In this case, thinking about suicide might bring some relief. But it is important to know that there is help out there, and there is an alternative solution to the problem; someone is always listening.”

You can speak to a mental health professional or trained volunteer via the SANEline every evening or call, email and text the Samaritans, who are open 24/7, 365 days a year. Both offer non-judgemental and compassionate emotional support.

Written by Katie from Counselling Directory, an online mental health resource hub dedicated to connecting people to the help they need. Find more information and help on their suicidal thoughts and mental health sections.

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