Suicidal thoughts; practical measures

There is a myth that suicidal thoughts are more common at Christmas; yet, perhaps because we are more likely to be surrounded by family, Christmas is less likely to provoke suicidal thoughts. However, suicide can be prevented with the right help. It may be that you are very clear that you want to die, or indeed that you do not care one way or the other. Sometimes problems and situations can seem so overwhelming that the only way to end the pain seems like not to be here - to complete suicide.

Many have such suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives; this does not make them a "bad person", nor does it make them "mad" or "crazy". It means that they have more pain in their lives at the moment than they can deal with. This level of stress has become overwhelming to the point where suicidal thoughts seem to provide the only answer.

For most people, suicidal thoughts are difficult to understand; while on the surface they seem to offer a "way out", what would be better is a true solution to your difficulties - a way out of the pain for everybody, for others to understand how you feel. This is not always easy; sometimes talking to a friend or family member can feel too big a risk. Suicidal thoughts can make us anxious and confused, and are much easier to understand when we talk them through with someone.

Typically, suicidal thoughts will make you feel powerless in the face of a situation or an issue which has a huge impact on your life, e.g. being bullied, shame or guilt for some act or perceived act. You can see no solution and you feel death is the only rational choice. Yet it is worth pausing to consider that this is a feeling and feelings are transitory, so it is at least worth talking it through before opting for something as final as death.

Here are a few practical things you can do:

  • Call or talk to someone. Ask a friend or a family member to be with you; use services like the Samaritans to get over the immediate crisis. Simply talking to someone will let some of the feeling go.
  • Think about practical steps to keep yourself safe from impulsive thoughts. For example: think about giving medication or pills to someone you trust like a flatmate or a family member so that you won't be tempted to take too much.
  • Look at ways that you can address the underlying problems of your suicidal thoughts; perhaps by talking to your GP or seeing a counsellor. Looking after yourself and your long term needs will be crucial in making a difference.

Similarly, if you know someone who you think may be suicidal, you should help them by listening to them and what they have to say. There is no need to fix their problems - just listen. Try to encourage them to avoid alcohol and drugs and get professional help. In the longer term, keep checking in with them; too many people are frightened off by mental illness, yet as with any illness it's good to offer long term support.

In conclusion, whether you have or know someone with suicidal thoughts, it is something that can be successfully treated and a real difference can be made even to the seemingly blackest of situations with a little care and consideration.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Glasgow, G46
Written by Graeme Orr, MBACP(Accred) Counsellor
Glasgow, G46

Graeme is a counsellor and author, living and working on the south side of Glasgow. In his practice, he sees a number of clients with emotional, anxiety and self-esteem that have relevance to us all. His articles are based on that experience and are offered as an opportunity to identify with, or to challenge you to make changes in your life.

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