Many people will experience suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives, for most people they come and go quickly, others can overcome the distress with time and support 

Girl talking to worker 

Suicidal thoughts and feelings are terrifying for most people. Many people will experience them at some point in their lives, but for most people they come and go very quickly and don’t happen on a regular basis. When we are very low in mood, suicidal thoughts and feelings can become more frequent. If you experience suicidal thoughts or feelings, you are not bad, weak or crazy – it’s just your mind’s way of telling you that you have more distress than you know how to cope with right now. With time and support, you can overcome the distress and the suicidal thoughts and feelings can get better.

We are more likely to develop thoughts and feelings of suicide when we are stressed or going through very vulnerable times in our lives. Reasons may include loneliness, breakdown of an important relationship, family conflict, trauma, regret, a significant life event such as a bereavement, educational stress, social pressure, pregnancy or birth related issues, debt, adjusting to a big change, identity issues.

Suicidal thoughts and feelings are experienced in different ways: some people have fleeting thoughts of not wanting to be around anymore, some imagine in detail the ways in which they might die and what life would be like if they were not around anymore. Some people feel clearly that they do not want to be around anymore, other people have mixed feelings about life and may want a solution but don’t know how to go about getting one. Suicidal thoughts and feelings are very confusing.

Dealing with suicidal thoughts

  • Try not to act in the moment: Even though you are in a lot of distress right now, putting some distance between your thoughts/feelings and actions is the right thing to do. You do not need to let your thoughts become a reality.
  • Keep safe: Find ways of making your surroundings safe – this might mean making it harder to access the things that might cause you the most harm e.g. tablets, sharp objects.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol: Even if these things have helped to make you feel better in the past they affect how we think and behave, and suicidal thoughts can be stronger when we misuse these things.
  • Remember…people get through this: Everyone’s situation is very different, however we know that hopelessness and helplessness increase the risk of suicide. Take some hope from the fact that others have been in extremely dark places and found ways to come out of them stronger and happier. There is a solution to everything.
  • Talk to others: Spend time with family and friends who have a positive impact on how you feel. It is important to share your suicidal thoughts or feelings with at least one person whom you trust. This helps you to feel cared for and gain ideas on moving forward.
  • Managing distress: Think about the ways that help you manage your distress – this will be different for everyone. These ways do not have to be risky; it could be stroking your pet, painting your nails, having a bath, colouring in, or listening to music.

What to do if you feel suicidal

If you are concerned about yourself or someone else and you do not think that they can keep themselves safe, you must try to stay calm, stay with them and seek immediate help and advice. There are national helplines: Childline (0800 1111) Samaritans (116 123) that are open 24/7 for 365 days a year and there are also local services (below). You can also call 999 or go to A&E at any time.

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