Suicidal feelings are more common than anyone would like to think, and as World Suicidal Awareness Day approaches (on Sunday September 10) here is our guide to suicidal thoughts and what to do if you have them.
Suicidal feelings aren’t just the obvious. That is to say they aren’t just one thing, suicidal thoughts and feelings can range from a vague sensation that it might be better for others if you weren’t around, or that if you had a terminal illness you wouldn’t have to struggle so hard, right up to thinking about how you would take your own life, or making an actual plan to do it. This can be very frightening and if you are having any of these thoughts of feelings, the chances are that you will feel scared or confused by them. But you are not alone. A lot of people have these feelings and think about suicide at some point in their lifetime.
No one experiences suicidal feelings in the same way and if you are having them they will be unique to you. The feelings may come and go or feel ever-present. It might be that you feel you just cannot go on living the way that you do or it might that you feel you cannot cope with the difficulties in your life and feel that suicide is your only way out. The most common thing, though, is that you probably don’t understand why you have these feelings so the two most important things are: that you learn self-care and start to talk to someone about it.
Perhaps the most difficult thing about having suicidal thoughts is the feeling that there is something shameful about them; that you can’t tell anyone and they can’t be shared. So it can be very difficult to raise the subject or even think about talking to someone about it, but if you do talk to someone about how you are feeling, and it can be a friend or family member or a professional such as your GP, it will help you to see beyond your feelings of hopelessness, loneliness and despair and they, the person you talk to, you can help you to work out what your options are. There are also many helplines (numbers given at the end of this blog) where there are people who understand how you are feeling waiting to talk to you, and will be able to help.
You might feel that you can never be happy or feel hope again, and there is no way of predicting how long you will have these feelings, because again it is different for everyone, but with support, and by helping yourself (which may include seeking professional help) there is a way out. You can go on to lead a more hopeful and fulfilling life.
One of the difficulties in opening up to people about this is fear of what they might think: can they understand? Will they judge you? Will they be upset by it? And this is why a helpline or a healthcare professional might be a good place to start and then, when you are more comfortable talking about it, you can talk to your family and friends. But the most important thing is to know that you are not alone in this, and that you do deserve support. And, largely, people are very happy to give that support and would hate the idea that you had felt you couldn’t talk to them about this. You might even find that they have had these feelings themselves at some times in their lives.
Across the globe, an average of almost 3000 people a day commit suicide, and about 50,000 more people attempt suicide every day according to the World Health Organisation. An astonishing one million people die by suicide each year. And yet each suicide is a preventable death. There is strong evidence showing that putting prevention methods in place seriously reduces suicide rates, and the strongest tool in prevention is awareness. So if you are reading this because you have, at times, had thoughts that you’d be better off not existing, or you are having those thoughts now try to talk to someone about it. We know how difficult this can feel, and it might feel particularly difficult now, but it is really important that you know that you are not alone in this and you are not beyond help.
Getting help in an emergency
If you don’t feel you can keep yourself safe, seek immediate help
- Go to A&E.
- If it is not easy for you to get to an A&E department call 999 and ask for an ambulance.
- Or, ask someone else to take you to A&E or contact 999 for you.
If you don’t want to go to A&E, here are some other options:
- Call the Samaritans on freephone 116 123, they’re open 24 hours.
- Contact your GP or the out of hours team and ask for an emergency appointment.
- Call NHS 111
If you are having suicidal thoughts, it can really help to talk through those feelings with a trained therapist or counsellor who can help you to come to terms with them. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8673 4545 and our team of receptionists will be able to help you find you the right therapist for you.