Suicide prevention and anger in: "They said and I said"

Trigger warning: this article contains references to suicide.


Not long ago, I collaborated on developing private sector policies for a charity part of mental health services within an outreach community area of London. Reading through reports given to me for analysis, I came across the following sentence:

“They said and I said…”. I highlighted that sentence in my mind because it reminded me of narratives from patients across all services that I have been contractually engaged with since working in private practice.

That part/sentence/phrase was, by then, easily recognisable, and it is what I call: a patient’s narrative of a “hot memory”.

What it means:

“They said and I said…" means that you are in a recall state about a highly significant emotional state in your recollection about a relationship or several relationships with significant others. What I mean by significant others are that of a self-identified group, enterprise or a group of people with relatable and associated characteristics i.e. family,  people from an employment setting or a social, cultural, professional or educational membership group.

What is important to note, is you have potentially formed a conglomerate of situations in your mind about a They; They, potentially, representing several or a multitude of situations, interactions with a corporation or groups of people or both. You are saying: "It was, they (situations, people, corporate or business) and I. Or, it is They and I. The “I” is at war with "They", and that is never a good situation, at least not in psychotherapeutic terms.

"They said and I said" and suicide ideation.

On the extreme side, most suicide ideations are based on an internal dialogue of: “I am at war with the world", and/or "I will never succeed or combat this” - all such statements would be about dissatisfaction and anger, and when such felt anger would not find a way of being healthily and safely processed, it can become unbearable for anyone suffering. The ask for help or need to do so, would gradually diminish under the intensity of depth felt, overwhelming belief of being at the center of such conflict with no way out.  

Suicide attempts are typically believed to be of three types. One such type is when one’s anger at the world becomes completely uncontained and hope for a possible tomorrow is rather on a negative spectrum.

The anger 

The anger, as an identified feeling, is never alone in its intensity or existence, and in cases of suicide ideation about the world and I, is very often coupled with other difficult to bear feelings such as guilt, shame, embarrassment etc.

When such anger is uncontained, the survival instinct can be replaced by a blinded desire to punish the world or they - and in extreme cases, that is achieved by taking an ultimate act - that of suicide. Things are much more complex, but an inner or articulated dialogue about They and I is signalling grave, severe psychological and emotional difficulties.

Anger is never a feeling that can ultimately be left unaccounted for; anger is survival only when not left adrift to ravage one’s mind, because when it does, it turns inwards and against life itself. Anger is only a powerful emotion associated to living when processed and fully understood. Do not push it aside and do not ignore it. Obstacles of culture and language are, unfortunately, some of the quickest ways of identifying and designating differences - not necessarily wishfully, but it can happen when one experience discrimination.


1. They said and I said  - Can be identified when a patient is recalling a recent happening or critical incident. The same phrase could be formulated as a trigger of difficulty, depicting several similar experiences with or without the patient’s awareness of the repetitive quality of such states of being.

2. They said and I said - If you ever find yourself saying out aloud that sentence or within an inner dialogue or even when talking with a friend, please pay attention and increase your reach out for support to 100 times more.

3. They said and I said - Typically means that the I is holding an extremely challenging psychological/emotional content (with awareness or not) of unbearable memories – unprocessed negative feelings i.e., Anger.

4. They said and I said - It may sound like a simple way of articulating a recent difficult experience, but what it can also mean is that you have experienced multiple and severe emotional trauma and you need to reach out for support.

Hope it helps!

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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