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Let's talk about suicidal thoughts

Every year, 703,000 people take their own life. There are many more people who attempt suicide and even more who feel suicidal. Suicide is a taboo subject because we don’t talk about it enough. To break the narrative and the stigma, we need to talk, we need to be honest, we need to open up and share.

What are suicidal feelings?

Suicidal feelings can mean different things to different people, but they essentially involve having thoughts about ending your life or feeling that people would be better off without you. These thoughts can be disturbing and worrying but it’s important to know that they’re not uncommon and there are lots of things you can do to get support if you start to feel this way.

Suicidal thoughts can take many different forms and can be caused by different things. Sometimes we might wish we simply weren’t here anymore or feel we’d be better off if we just didn’t wake up one morning when something horrible, sad, or stressful happens.

Sometimes suicidal thoughts can be triggered by certain traumatic events, harrowing experiences or can be associated with depression and anxiety. The reality is many people will experience these thoughts at some point in their lifetime and if this is you right now, you’re not alone.

Suicidal thoughts do take different forms and it’s important that you recognize when you really need to seek help urgently. There’s a difference between thinking about not being here anymore and feeling that you can’t go on, and thinking about methods of suicide or making clear plans to take your own life.

If you’re feeling that way please reach out now. We have included some options for places to contact at the end of this blog.

What causes suicidal feelings?

Suicidal feelings can build up over time, or they can develop suddenly. They are not always linked to depression, and there are many different circumstances that may lead to you struggling to cope and feeling suicidal. These difficulties may include (but are not limited to):

  • Depression or another mental illness

  • Bullying or discrimination

  • Different types of abuse

  • Bereavement and grief

  • The loss of a relationship

  • Feelings of failure

  • Isolation or loneliness

  • Cultural pressure

  • Doubts about your sexual or gender identity

  • Adjusting to a big life change

  • Traumatic event

Things to remember if you or a friend are experiencing suicidal thoughts

1) Asking a person if they are thinking about suicide will not encourage them to take their life

In fact, it will do the very opposite. Asking someone you care about directly if they are thinking about ending their life communicates that you’re open to speaking about suicide in a non-judgmental and supportive way.

Asking in this direct, unbiased manner, can open the door for effective dialogue about their emotional pain and may even provide them with some much-needed relief to speak about what they are going through.

2) Experiencing suicidal thoughts does not make you a failure, it’s just a symptom of an illness or life experience

Life is not static, people can go through ups and downs and your mental state will too. This is completely normal and okay. You are not alone, you are still as successful when you are struggling as you are when you are happy.

3) It’s possible to come out the other side and feel okay again

Just because this is a struggle for you right now, does not mean you will struggle with these thoughts forever. Many people experience these thoughts and they pass. There is support there and lots of people who will help you to feel better.

4) An individual with suicidal thoughts and attempts can live a long, successful life

Your suicidal thoughts don’t define you.

5) So many people would care if you died by suicide

If you are struggling with a sense of hopelessness, please remember that the sorrow of losing you to suicide would be endless and immense. You are not a burden and you are greatly loved by so many people.

6) Not every suicidal thought is going to kill you

Suicidal thoughts are scary and are a sign that you’re really struggling, but they do not necessarily mean that you want to die and they do not mean that you’re going to feel this way forever.

Getting help if you are feeling suicidal

If your suicidal thoughts start turning into plans, please reach out for support! It can be so hard to ask for help, but if you are suicidal then help is what you need.

Tough times aren’t meant to be endured alone. There is always someone there to listen to you, whether it be a friend, a family member, a counselor, your doctor, a helpline or someone else. You are not alone.

Helping a friend

If you are concerned about the wellbeing of a friend or family member, remember that having the confidence to talk about suicidal thoughts does save lives.

Things to look out for :

Suicidal thoughts can start to show up as physical symptoms, including a change in appetite, poor sleep, low self-esteem or an urge to self-harm. A person may struggle to focus on their day-to-day life, and instead, be consumed by suicidal thoughts.

They may also use phrases such as:

“My life is so hopeless, I have no other choice but to end it.”

“Everybody would be much better off without me.”

“I’m useless, no one wants me and no one would care if I was dead”.

Don’t be afraid to initiate a conversation. If the answer to the question is no, this could provide you with some much-needed relief, but it may also open up the conversation in the future if that friend is not yet ready to talk about what they are going through yet.

By being brave enough to let them know you are open to having the hard conversations, it could leave a door open for them to reach out for support.

If a friend does open up to you, let them know you’re there to listen, and know that you don’t need to have any of the answers or look to fill the space in the conversation. Give them a chance to think, feel and reflect on what they’ve shared with you.

Let them lead the discussion at their own pace so that you don’t unintentionally put pressure on them to share anything they aren’t ready to. Talking can take a lot of trust and courage. Always remember that you might be the first person they have been able to talk to about this.

Make sure you get support for yourself too. If someone you love and care about is battling with suicidal feelings there are also places you can go for support too.

Suicidal feelings are so challenging. Whether it’s talking about them, feeling them or supporting someone with them. It’s a hard topic but it’s an important one. The more we share, the more we open up the more we show those around us that it’s okay to not be okay. It’s alright to not be alright and you’re not alone.

If you or anyone you know is battling with suicidal feelings please see here for a range of places for support.


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