Understanding and coping with suicidal thoughts
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Joshua Miles BACP Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist
2nd February, 20160 Comments
Mixed feelings and confusing thoughts
Suicidal thoughts are exhausting, confusing, isolating, distressing and all consuming. You may hate yourself and believe you are useless and not needed or wanted by anyone. You may feel a combination of rage, shame, guilt and sadness, or all these feelings and more. Often when people experience suicidal thoughts, they may blame themselves and feel that in some way, it is all their fault.
You may feel unable to manage your difficulties and small conflicts with friends, family or difficulties in your personal life will feel like undefeatable issues. You may feel as if you are completely stuck with your emotional pain. It is these feelings of powerlessness and being unable to change the situation that can make suicide seem like the only way to regain control in a world that seems cruel, unfair and out of your control.
You may be very clear that you want to die, or you may not simply care if you live or die. Suicidal thoughts are confusing and as much as you may wish to die, you may also seek a solution to your difficulties. You may want an understanding from others and hope that they are able to help you. However, you may also simultaneously feel that they will be unable to help.
You may not know why you are having suicidal thoughts and think that you have no reason to want to kill yourself, which can lead you to feel deeply guilty and ashamed. If you don’t know the reasons why you feel suicidal, you may find it hard to believe that there could be a solution.
These mixed feelings and confusing thoughts can result in a variety of other forms of self-harm, such as cutting yourself, biting or burning your body, an increased use of drugs or alcohol or taking extreme risks. These sorts of behaviours can be a way of trying to kill the internal pain you are feeling rather than actually killing yourself. The majority of people who feel suicidal do not necessarily want their lives to end, but want the pain, trauma and distress they feel to stop. Suicidal thoughts can lead to:
- Sleeping badly and waking early.
- A change in appetite – either increased or decreased.
- Significant weight-loss or weight gain.
- Feeling physically numb or unreal and cut off from your body.
- A total lack of energy for daily activities.
- A lack of motivation and a desire to hide away.
- Not taking care of yourself properly, e.g. neglecting your physical appearance.
Why do people become suicidal?
Given that nearly all forms of life strive to survive, live and spend time trying not to die, it can seem totally unbelievable that someone would desire to end their own life intentionally. However, the roots of suicide are highly complicated and have many complex layers. These feelings and thoughts are attached to an intricate and personal set of ideas, past experiences and beliefs that a person holds about themselves. Therefore, it can be nearly impossible for another person to understand why someone would wish to end their own life.
Suicidal feelings usually increase over time, whether over a few months or years and it is likely you would have been experiencing increased levels of hopelessness and worthlessness. Suicidal thoughts and feelings can be brought about through various experiences, such as:
- Increased sense of loneliness or isolation.
- Depression or other existing mental health issues.
- Moving away from friends or family.
- Social anxieties or difficulties forming bonds.
- Breakdown or ending of a significant relationship or relationships.
- Being bullied at work, school or home.
- Experiencing a bereavement.
- Unemployment, redundancy or poor job prospects.
- Being in prison, or having been released.
- Doubts about your sexuality.
- Facing types of discrimination.
- A history of sexual or physical abuse.
What help is available?
Many people think about suicide but the majority do not go on to take their own lives. Even if you are at the lowest you point you can imagine, you deserve help. Simply by reading this, you are taking the first step in looking for support and help.
If you live in the UK, you can call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 to talk to someone 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. They will not know you and are not going to judge you, nor will they tell any of your friends or family about how you feel or call the police.
Many people visit their GP for help with their emotional difficulties, so your doctor will be used to listening to these sorts of issues. They are also able to refer you on for further treatment if this is something you want or need. Your doctor will be able to discuss all your treatment options with you as well as taking into account your views and preferences.
Psychotherapy and counselling can help you make sense of your feelings and explore ways to manage and understand what you are going through. The aim is to enable you to find your own solutions and gain deeper knowledge of your difficulties. In a safe, confidential and non-judgmental space, you can release and unpack your emotions and explore the reasons that brought you to feeling so low.
When you feel low it can be hard to believe that you could ever feel better. It can help to think about coping with each day as it comes, this helps you acknowledge that your mood has been different before and it can change again. It will not always be this way.
Just as it takes time for suicidal feelings to emerge, it will take time for them to fade. But in time, they will. Even if you can’t currently see a way forward, you can be certain that the way you are thinking and feeling at the moment will change.
About the author
Joshua's an experienced integrative psychotherapist & bereavement counsellor who's worked with people at points in their lives when they have felt low, depressed & suicidal. He has assisted people in exploring their feelings/experiences at depth, helping them gain understanding & clarity of their experiences. He's based in Shoreditch, East London.
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