Suicidal Thoughts: How Can Therapy Help You?

If you need immediate help and are worried you can’t keep yourself safe, please:

  • Go to your nearest A&E department

  • Call 999 if you can’t get to a hospital

  • Ask someone to take you to A&E or call 999 for you

If A&E isn’t an option, or you just want to talk to someone, call the Samaritans on 116 123.

Suicidal thoughts and feelings can be terrifying. Sometimes the pain can be so overwhelming that you believe your only option is to kill yourself. These thoughts and feelings may have built up over time. If life has become unbearable, you may believe that death is your only option.

If you can see no reason why you should go on living, your distress will be extreme. You may hate yourself and believe that you are useless and unneeded. You may feel rage, shame and guilt. Repeated painful experiences, particularly losses, can lead you to blame yourself and feel that you haven’t lived up to your own standards.

Faced with unsolvable difficulties, overpowering feelings of guilt, failures or conflicts, you may start to think that death is your only option. You may feel suicidal for no apparent reason. You may think that you have no reason to want to kill yourself. This can trigger feelings of deep guilt and shame, and you may find it difficult to tell others what you are going through.

Whether you are aware of a cause or not, it can be difficult to relate to others at this time, so you are likely to feel withdrawn or irritable. Even if you have family and friends around, you may find it impossible to tell them just how bad you feel.

If you’ve been hurt by someone close to you, you may be thinking of suicide as a way of getting back at them. It’s understandable to be angry with people who have hurt us, but suicide turns that anger in on ourselves.

What you may experience:

  • Sleeping badly and waking early
  • A change in appetite
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Feeling cut off from your body or feeling physically numb
  • A loss of energy
  • You may have stopped taking care of yourself and be neglecting your physical appearance

If you are thinking about suicide then you may believe that you are beyond help. You may be so deeply hurt or afraid that you feel out of reach. If you are filled with rage it can seem difficult to allow another person to make a difference. You may be refusing help as a way of punishing a person who has hurt you. If your anger has turned inwards and you feel self- hatred or guilt, you may believe that you don’t deserve help.

These thoughts and feelings may have particular urgency if you have already attempted suicide, or if there is a history of suicide in your family. It’s important to look out for the warning signs in yourself and take them seriously.

What can help?

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, there are several things you can do right now to help and longer-term plans to help you feel better.

Right now

Make yourself safe – Your priority when you feel suicidal is to make yourself safe. This means removing anything you could use to harm yourself (or asking someone else to remove it) or removing yourself from a dangerous location. If you have a safety/crisis plan, follow it.

Get through the next five minutes – Make things less overwhelming by focusing on small chunks of time. Focus on just getting through the next five minutes, then reward yourself and move onto the next five minutes.

Distract yourself – If you feel an urge to hurt yourself, try distraction techniques. These include; holding an ice cube until it melts, focusing on how cold it is, writing down how you feel and tearing up the paper, focusing on your five senses, taking slow, deep breaths.

Challenge your thinking – Write down some things you have coming up that you’re looking forward to. This may be watching a new film you’re excited about, seeing a loved one or eating something delicious. Make plans to do something you enjoy tomorrow.

Speak to someone – Visit or call someone and tell them how you feel. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, try a helpline like Samaritans – they are available 24/7 and will listen without judgement. Know that you are not a burden on anyone, loved ones and helpline volunteers will want to support you.

In the long-term

Talk to your GP – If this is the first time you’ve felt like this, booking an appointment with your GP is a great first step. They can refer you for talking therapies, prescribe medication where necessary and put you in touch with specialist services like a community mental health team.

Consider talking therapy – Talking therapies are offered by counsellors and psychotherapists, and can help you understand why you feel the way you do and help you find ways to resolve/cope with your feelings.

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