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Mental Health Awareness - Suicidal Feelings

PostPosted: 2019.05.18 20:11
by Shauny Tsero
With raising awareness of mental health must see something on suicidal feelings. I feel strongly on this as I have tried to take my own life in the past, so I know how isolated one can feel, but support is out there. Today's information and advice is brought to you from UK's MIND, found here: mind.org.uk. They also offer guides on how to support someone with suicidal thoughts/feelings. Tomorrow we have Broadcast 4 Reps joining us for a special discussion on what they offer and how it can help you, or even someone else you meet online. Our final posting on mental health tomorrow will be along these lines of what support opportunities there are available to us all.

I must stress if you do have suicidal thoughts then please do reach out to a medical professional straight away and get urgent help.

Why do I feel suicidal?

Suicidal feelings can affect anyone, of any age, gender or background, at any time.

If you are feeling suicidal it is likely that you have been experiencing a growing sense of hopelessness and worthlessness for some time.
You may not know what has caused you to feel this way, but it is often a combination of factors.

The thoughts would completely consume you sometimes, feeling like you have no control over your own body.
Struggling to cope with certain difficulties in your life can cause you to feel suicidal, such as:
  • mental health problems
  • bullying or discrimination
  • domestic abuse
  • bereavement
  • the end of a relationship
  • long-term physical pain or illness
  • adjusting to a big change, such as retirement or redundancy
  • money problems or homelessness
  • isolation or loneliness
  • being in prison
  • feeling inadequate or a failure
  • losing a loved one to suicide
  • addiction or substance abuse
  • pregnancy, childbirth or postnatal depression
  • cultural pressure, such as forced marriage
  • doubts about your sexual or gender identity
  • sexual or physical abuse

If you are unsure of why you feel suicidal, you may find it even harder to believe that there could be a solution. But whatever the reason there is support available to help you cope and overcome these feelings.

Can medication cause suicidal feelings?

Some medications, such as antidepressants have been found to cause suicidal feelings. This side effect is mainly associated with a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) but all antidepressants carry this potential risk.
Young people under the age of 25 are particularly at risk. For further guidance please see our information on what you need to know before taking antidepressants.

If you find you are experiencing suicidal feelings while taking antidepressants:
  • contact your doctor as soon as possible to discuss this
  • if you feel at immediate risk go to your local hospital's A&E/ER department.
Why are some groups more at risk of suicide?

Research shows that the following groups are more at risk of taking their own life:
  • Men
  • People who identify as LGBT+
Men

It's not clear why more men than women complete suicide. However, if you are male you may:
  • Feel pressured to 'get on with things' and keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself
  • Choose suicide methods that have a lower chance of survival
  • Believe you can or feel you must cope without help
  • Worry that you will appear weak if you talk about your feelings or seek support.

Organisations such as the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) are working to prevent male suicide in the UK by challenging the culture that prevents men from seeking help when they need and by offering support to men in crisis via their helpline and webchat. Check to see if there are similar services in your area.

LGBTQ

Studies show that people from LGBTQ communities are more likely to experience suicidal feelings and take their own lives.
The reasons for this are complex and not yet fully understood. However, mental health problems experienced by LGBTQ people have been linked to:
  • discrimination
  • bullying
  • homophobia, biphobia or transphobia
  • You might also experience rejection, negative reactions or hostility from family members, friends, strangers, employers or members of the religious community. This can have a big impact on your self-esteem and mean you might feel unable to be open about your sexual or gender identity at work, at home or in the world at large.

Organisations such as Switchboard provide support and information to gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and trans people via their confidential helpline, instant messaging and email service. The Gender Trust support anyone affected by gender identity issues, and has a list of local support groups, and therapists who specialise in supporting people with gender identity issues.

Helping yourself Now
You might be feeling so upset, angry and in pain that you believe that these feelings will never end. But it's important to remember that they cannot and will not last. Like all feelings, these will pass.

There are steps you can take right now to stop yourself from acting on your suicidal thoughts. Everyone is different, so it's about finding what works best for you. Here are some practical tips that other people have found helpful when they've felt suicidal:
  • get safe right now
  • distract yourself
  • challenge your thinking
Get safe right now
Get through the next 5 minutes. Taking things minute by minute can help make things more bearable. Reward yourself for each 5 minutes that pass.
Remove anything you could use to harm yourself or ask someone else to remove these for you. If you're in an unsafe location, move away.
If you have a safety plan or crisis plan, follow it.

Tell someone how you're feeling. Whether it's a friend, family member or even a pet, telling someone else how you are feeling can help you to feel less alone and more in control.

Distract yourself
If you're thinking of harming yourself, find self-harm coping techniques that work for you, such as:
  • holding an ice cube in your hand until it melts and focus on how cold it feels
  • tearing something up into hundreds of pieces
  • take a very cold shower or bath.

Focus on your senses. Taking time to think about what you can smell, taste, touch, hear and see can help to ground your thoughts.
Steady your breathing. Take long deep breaths; breathing out for longer than you breathe in can help you to feel calmer.

Look after your needs. Avoid taking drugs or drinking alcohol as this can make you feel worse. If you can: get a glass of water, eat something if you're hungry, sit somewhere comfortably and write down how you're feeling.

Get outside. If you are feeling numb, feeling the rain, sun or wind against your skin can help you to feel more connected to your body.
Reach out. If you can't talk to someone you know, contact a telephone support service or use online peer support such as Elefriends.

Sometimes it's just about survival and focusing on something that's real until the feelings can become easier to deal with.

Challenge your thoughts
Make a deal with yourself that you won't act today. Plan to get support if you're not getting support already (see our pages on support for suicidal feelings).

Find your reasons to live. You may feel like the world will be better off without you or there's no point in living, but this is never the case. You could:
write down what you're looking forward to, whether it's eating your favourite meal, seeing a loved one or catching up on the next episode of a TV show.

Make plans to do something you enjoy tomorrow or in the near future. Plans don't have to be big or expensive. Think about the people you love. No matter how bad you're feeling, it's important to remember that these people would miss you. Rather than focus on all the desperate negative thoughts about being a burden and of no use, bring your focus into trying to believe it will not last forever and working out how you can safely get through.

Be kind to yourself. Talk to yourself as if you were talking to a good friend. Do whatever you think might help you to get past these thoughts. It could be something small like having a bath, wrapping yourself in a blanket and watching your favourite film. These ideas may seem silly, but it can be easy to forget to do something nice for yourself.

Tell yourself you can get through this. At times, we can concentrate on the negatives we tell ourselves and lose hope. Repeating to yourself that you can get past these feelings can help you regain hope and focus on getting through it.

How can I cope in the future?
If you have experienced suicidal feelings in the past, or are still feeling low now, you may be worried that these feelings might return or get worse.

But there are steps you can take to look after and improve your general wellbeing when you're feeling low, as well as prepare for if you were to feel suicidal again:
  • Make a safety plan
  • Learn to manage difficult feelings
  • Learn to value yourself
  • Connect to other people
  • Look after your wellbeing
Make a safety plan
A safety plan is a personalised plan to support you step-by-step at times when you may be thinking about suicide.

Your safety plan might include:
recognising your warning signs
details of your own coping strategies – what has helped in the past and what you can do to help yourself now
the names and contact details of loved ones or telephone support services who can help in a crisis
the names and contact details of professionals or agencies you can contact during crisis
steps on making your environment safe and details of a safe place you can go to if you need

Try to make a plan when you are well or able to think clearly about what you find helpful. You might want to complete the plan with a trusted friend or therapist and give them a copy to keep.

You can find safety plan templates online, like ones from the Students Against Depression website and from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Is a safety plan the same as a crisis plan?
A safety plan focuses on what you can do now to keep yourself safe.

A crisis plan or joint crisis plan (agreed jointly between you and any mental health professionals as part of your care programme approach) also focuses on what has helped to keep you safe in the past but is more detailed. It also covers what treatment you would like to receive if necessary, and whether you've made an advance statement or decision.

Learn to manage difficult feelings
Take each day at a time. There might be good days and bad days. Try to focus on each day at a time and set yourself small, achievable goals.
Develop coping strategies that work for you. Self-help resources, such as Mood Juice, can help you to work through difficult feelings and learn coping skills.

Allow yourself to feel your feelings. Supressing your feelings when they happen can cause them to build up over time and make them even harder to cope with. Think about what caused you to feel suicidal and share this with those supporting you.

Make a happy box. Fill a box with memories and items that can provide comfort and help lift your mood when you feel down. The box can contain anything that is meaningful and helpful to you, for example: a favourite book, positive quotes, photos, letters, poems, notes to yourself, a cuddly toy, a perfume or smell important to you.

Learn your triggers. Keeping a diary can help you to find patterns in your mood over time and help you to think about what might be causing you to feel suicidal. You can track your feelings by using an online mood diary (there are many freely available).

Don't blame yourself. Many people who have tried or thought about taking their life feel guilty afterwards, especially if they have worried loved ones. Try to accept that was just how you were feeling at the time and focus your energy now on looking after yourself.

Value yourself
Write a letter to yourself. Include happy memories and mention the people who love and care about you. This can be helpful to read when you are experiencing suicidal feelings to remind yourself that things can get better.

Make plans to look forward to. It doesn't have to be something big like a holiday but scheduling time with loved ones, booking tickets to a music or art event or joining a club can help you to feel more positive about the future.

Build your self-esteem. See our pages on increasing your self-esteem.

Celebrate yourself. Write down your achievements and the things you like about yourself, however small. If someone compliments you, make a note of it.

Do things just for yourself. Whether it's spending half an hour reading a book, doing a hobby or taking up a new one, try to regularly make time to do the things you enjoy.

Connect to other people
Seek support. If you're not already receiving support or don't feel the support you have is helpful.

Let others know how you're feeling. Tell people what you find helpful and let them know when you are finding things difficult. It's okay to ask others to be with you if you need them.

Volunteer. Giving your time to help others can be rewarding. It can build confidence and help remind you that you are appreciated and needed by others.

Try peer support. It can be helpful to talk with others who have experienced suicidal feelings. Contact your local doctor to find what peer services are available locally. You can also access peer support online, on websites like Elefriends.

Being suicidal is nothing short of a nightmare so it is essential that you tell someone.

Look after your wellbeing
Get enough sleep. Learn to relax before bed, making sure your bedroom is a calm place clear of distractions.

Avoid drugs and alcohol. Stopping or reducing your use of drugs and/or alcohol will help you feel more in control of your thoughts and make it easier to rationalise your feelings.

Eat well. Eating regular healthy meals can make a big difference to your overall sense of wellbeing.

Re: Mental Health Awareness - Suicidal Feelings

PostPosted: 2019.07.01 22:21
by Iliad Soldaire
Thank you for acknowledging this as a genuine problem. In the past, I've suffered from suicidal ideations and depression, but I'm a lot better now. It really, really sucks to have those feelings, and I hope that others who are currently going through this can benefit from your advice.

Re: Mental Health Awareness - Suicidal Feelings

PostPosted: 2019.07.02 11:47
by Jameson Bolmara
Excellent post Shauny!

JB