“Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds. Suicide is a global phenomenon and occurs throughout the lifespan.”World Health Organisation
Remembering back to my childhood, I can recall the very first time that I contemplated suicide. At that time, I was just 8 years old, I didn’t know it was called suicide, I just knew that I didn’t want to be alive any more. And that was the very first of many thoughts I had, until I finally attempted it in my early teens.
Since some time in February 2019, I joined the Mental Health Crisis Angels over on Twitter. It’s an active peer support group for anyone who needs to talk to someone if they are struggling. All our members have lived their own experience of mental health problems, and we are there to help others with theirs.
Tomorrow, Friday 5th April, is Angels Suicide Awareness day. One of our own team has recently suffered a tragic loss due to suicide. We are actively encouraging everybody on Twitter to get involved in the discussion around suicide. We are doing this using the hashtag #AngelsSuicideAwareness. Its important more than ever to break the barriers and stigma around suicide. As the quote at the top by the World Health Organisation shows, 800,000 people die due to suicide each year. That statistic is a tragic and heart-breaking number!
What are suicidal thoughts and feelings?
Suicide is the act of intentionally taking your own life. Thoughts and feelings can range from being preoccupied by abstract thoughts about ending your life, and/or feeling like people would be better off without you, to thinking about different methods of suicide and/or making plans to carry it out.
Many people think about suicide in their life and it is so important to know that if you are feeling suicidal, you are not alone. You may be confused and scared by your thoughts and feelings, but there is help out there, including the Mental Health Crisis Angels over on Twitter.
Everybody’s experience of feeling suicidal is unique to them. But you might feel that you are unable to cope with overwhelming and enduring thoughts and feelings. These thoughts and feelings might build gradually over time or hit all at once and seem like they will never end. It is also very common to not know why you feel this way.
What you might think, feel, and/or experience:
- Hopeless, like there is no point in living.
- Unbearable pain that feels like it will never end.
- Useless and unwanted by other people.
- Desperate, like you have no other option.
- Tearful and overwhelmed by negative thoughts and feelings.
- A change in appetite including weight gain or loss.
- Poor sleep cycles.
- Self-loathing and poor self esteem
Suicidal thoughts and feelings can last for varying different times and differ from person to person. It is common to feel like these thoughts and feelings will never end, and that you will never know what its like to be happy and hopeful again. But with the right help and support, the majority of people go on to live fulfilling lives.
The sooner you reach out and talk to someone how you are feeling, the quicker you will be able to get support to overcome it. However, it can be difficult to open up to people because you might feel:
- Unsure of who to talk to.
- Unable to talk about it.
- Afraid that no one will understand.
- Fearful of being judged and rejected.
- Worried that you will upset people.
In any case its important to try and remember that you deserve help and support for how you feel. There is a lot of help available including the Mental Health Crisis Angels. I also have a Help & Support page you can access here on my blog.
Since I became a Mental Health Advocate, and started my account on Twitter, I have been asked on many occasions why somebody might feel suicidal. This is a very difficult, if not impossible question to answer. But what I do know is, suicidal thoughts and feelings can affect anyone, it doesn’t discriminate by age, gender, sexuality, faith or background. And it certainly can strike at any time.
You may not know what has caused you to feel suicidal, but it can be down to a combination of factors including:
- Mental health problems.
- Domestic abuse and/or violence.
- Bullying and discrimination.
- Big changes, like retirement and redundancy.
- The end of a relationship.
- Long term physical pain and/or illness.
- Financial problems and homelessness.
- Sexual and/or physical abuse
- Pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal depression.
- Feeling inadequate or like you’re a failure.
- Doubts about sexual and gender identity.
You may find it harder to believe that there is a solution to how you feel, if you are unsure as to why you feel suicidal in the first place. But whatever the reason may be, there is help and support available to help you overcome these thoughts and feelings.
There are some groups of people who are more at risk of suicide than others, and here in the UK this is Men and all those who identify as LGBTQ. Research shows that people from these groups are at more risk of taking their own lives.
Its not entirely clear why more men than women commit suicide, however, being male you may:
- Choose suicide methods that have a lot lower chance of survival.
- Worry that you will appear weak if you try to open up about your thoughts and feelings.
- Believe you can cope and should cope without any help.
- Feel pressured to get on with things and keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself.
Research also shows that people who identify as LGBTQ are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and feelings and take their own lives. The reasons are complex and not yet understood. However, mental health problems experienced by LGBTQ have been linked to discrimination, bullying, homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia. They may also experience rejection and hostility from family, friends, strangers, religious community and employers. This kind of thing has a massive impact on self-esteem and can make you feel like you can’t open up to anyone.
How you can help yourself cope with these thoughts and feelings.
You may be feeling like these thoughts and feelings will never end, but its important to try and remember that they cannot and will not last. There are a lot of resources available to help yourself get through these difficult times. There are some steps you can take right now to help stop you from acting on the suicidal thoughts. Its important to point out though that everybody is different, so you need to find what works best for you. Here are a few practical tips that have helped others get through:
- Get through the next 5 minutes, taking things minute by minute can help make things more bearable.
- If there is anything around that you could use to harm yourself, then remove it, or ask someone else to remove it for you.
- If you are in an unsafe location, then remove yourself from it.
- If you have a crisis plan, then begin to follow it.
- Tell somebody how you are feeling. This can be family, friends or even a pet. Telling someone how you feel can help make you feel less alone and more in control.
- Distraction often helps, this can be anything at your disposal. Go for a walk or a run, listen to uplifting music, try reading or even writing and drawing.
- Use grounding techniques, use your senses of hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste. Try identifying 3 or more things for each of the senses.
- Avoid alcohol (it’s a depressant) as drinking will often make you feel worse.
- If you are feeling numb, try getting outside. Feeling the elements like the wind, rain, hot or cold against your skin can often make you feel more connected to yourself.
- Challenge your thoughts and find your reasons to live, think about the people you love, they would miss you. Make plans for the coming days, including visiting loved ones.
The Mental Health Crisis Angels #AngelsSuicideAwareness campaign is on Friday 5th April, which is tomorrow. Please help us and join in on the discussion. Suicide effects so many people every year, 800,000 suicides to be exact. The number is far higher for those loved ones who are left to live without those who took their own lives. Suicide is something we all need to be talking about, in the open, with everyone. Suicide does not discriminate.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope you will join us on Twitter for the discussion. Until then, stay safe and reach out if you need to.