Coping With Suicidal Thoughts

There are times in life when we might feel totally, hopeless, helpless, overwhelmed with emotional pain. It can seem like there is no other way out of our problems, we’ve run out of ideas, possible solutions. Our problems seem unfixable. The pain feels like it will never end. We believe we’ve run out of options, and suicide is the only answer left. For some people, suicide may be a way of getting back at others, or showing them how much pain you’re in.

We don’t want you to kill yourself. We believe that you are an amazing person and that you will be able to find a way through the dark tunnel. Please know that you are not alone. We are here to help you. We care about you and we are going to try and help you to feel that you are worthy of care, love and happiness.

But until you feel better, you will have to find a way of coping with how you are feeling now. Please do not act on the suicidal feelings. There are other ways in which you can try and cope. Please read below to help you.

  • However painful the feeling you are having right now, please know that it will pass.
  • If you have horrible thoughts about yourself right now, like self hatred, please know that they are only thoughts – they are not facts and they are not correct. When we are depressed or in pain, we can sometimes have images of ourselves that are very dark and horrible – please don’t treat it as the truth – it is just the way you feel now.
  • Often when we have horrible thoughts about ourselves, we also imagine that other people feel the same about us – again this is a painful thought created by depressed feelings, but it is not the truth. When you feel certain someone else does not like you or think bad things about you, why don’t you pluck up the courage and ask – “are you angry with me” or “ I feel as if you do not like me, is it my imagination?”

Here are a few more ways in which you can try and cope:

 

STOP – Stop and don’t just react. Your emotions may try and make you act without thinking. Just pause for a moment.

TAKE A STEP BACK  – Are you getting into a whirlpool?  Remember, you know when you are in a whirlpool when your mind becomes completely stuck on one thing and when it goes around and around.  You need to get out of the whirlpool to have perspective.  At the moment you do not have perspective.  Take a step back.  Try the following:

OBSERVE – Use your senses.  What can you hear, see, smell, feel?  Just tune into your senses for a moment.  Then try and observe what you are feeling in your body.  Listen to your breathing.  What are you feeing and what is in your mind?  Look at the other person.  Can you describe in your head what they look like – only in physical terms.  Now what do you imagine they are feeling?  Is there any evidence for that?OBSERVE Use your senses.  What can you hear, see, smell, feel?  Just tune into your senses for a moment.  Then try and observe what you are feeling in your body.  Listen to your breathing.  What are you feeing and what is in your mind?  Look at the other person.  Can you describe in your head what they look like – only in physical terms.  Now what do you imagine they are feeling?  Is there any evidence for that?

PRACTICE BREATHING – Now breathe in deeply.  Hold your breath and then let it out slower than the intake.  Do the effective rethinking exercise: (adapted from LInehan, 2015)

Whilst you breathe in, you say an effective statement, followed by the word “so” and then when you breathe out, you say the word “relax”. Eg.

“It is not important…..so relax”
“ I may not like this, but I can definitely stand it….so ….relax”
“I’m in control….so….relax”

Then ask yourself: “ Is the action I want to take really going to help? What will be the consequence? What else can I do that will have a better outcome?

If the STOP technique did not help, try distraction. Download the Virtual Hope box app. It is free and can help you with distraction. You could also download the Stop, Breathe and think app, which is also free. It is a meditation app which can help you to relax and distract yourself. Look at funny youtube clips. Listen to calming music.

Try and soothe yourself – smell a nice candle or scent, put lotion on your hands, have a warm bath, eat a chocolate, etc.

If that does not work, try the dive response. Put your face into cold water and hold your breath. This tells your brain that you are diving under water. It will take the dive response 15 – 30 seconds to kick in. Your heart will slow down and this will help to regulate your emotions. (Linehan, 2015)

Follow the Distress tolerance skills you have learned and if you have not learned any yet, do not worry, you can follow the techniques mentioned here and it will help.

  • Reduce the pain
  • Close your eyes and breathe. Feel your tummy move under your hand. Go to your safe place. See it, feel it, smell it, hear it.
  • Can you imagine speaking to a friend, or what you will say to a friend who tells you she/he feels like you do.
  • Additionally, what will help you to feel better now? Will it help to listen to music, write a poem, speak to a friend?
  • In our experience, it can sometimes help a lot to leave the space you are in, be that your bedroom or wherever and move to another space. The best could be if you could go for a walk or talk to a friend or if you could distract yourself.
  • It may also be worthwhile to write down what might have happened to make you feel the way you do and sometimes a clearer understanding of what happened can help us to feel better.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol
  • Whilst it seems like they help for a while, they will make your problems worse.
  • Ask yourself:
  1. Are these thoughts facts or my opinion?
  2. What has helped me feel better in the past?
  3. What can I do right now that will help me feel better?
  4. What gives my life meaning? What are my goals, dreams or life values? E.g. Family, friends, pets, helping others, faith, spirituality, community life, connecting with nature.
  • Tell yourself:
  1. I’ve coped this far, I can get through the next …. (day, hour, 10 minutes)
  2. Things will look better in time.
  3. Depression is temporary – this will pass.
  4. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
  5. Depression is distorting my thinking – these thoughts are the voice of depression. They are not facts. I don’t have to act on them.
  6. The vast majority of people get better from depression. I will look back and be pleased that I chose to live.

Increase coping strategies

Tell yourself: “ Suicide is not an option”

Read and put your Safety Plan into action!

Take one step at a time
Tell yourself: “I’ve got through so far, I can get through the next hour”.

Distraction

  • Do something else, and focus your attention fully on what you’re doing, e.g.
  • Physical exercise – walk, run, cycle, dance
  • Reading – magazine, self help book
  • Television
  • Seek out a supportive discussion forum on the internet
  • Learn something new on the internet
  • Imagery
  • Help someone else
  • Walk in the outdoors and pay attention to nature
  • Visit someone
  • Music
  • Stroke a pet
  • Feed the birds
  • Sudoku or crossword
  • Do something creative: painting, writing, knitting, play a musical instrument, make a collage, bake a cake, cook a meal, arrange some flowers, make a website or blog

Talk to someone – now!

  • A friend or family member
  • A telephone helpline
  • A health professional
  • Go somewhere you’ll feel safe – be with other people
  • Go to the local Accident & Emergency department

Further online or telephone resources:

  • Support groups (Guernsey) (UK support groups)
  • www.patient.co.uk/selfhelp.asp
  • National telephone helplines (UK)
  • www.getselfhelp.co.uk/helplines.htm
  • LivingLifetotheFull.com offers free online computerised CBT and discussion
    forums
  • www.livinglifetothefull.com
  • The Samaritans (with links to worldwide Befriending organisations)
  • 08457 90 90 90 (UK)
  • www.samaritans.org