How to Deal with Suicidal Feelings

Introduction
Suicide is the intentional taking of your own life, which invariably is preceded by suicidal thoughts and feelings. This post aims to address and shed some light on this difficult but important health problem.
According to a recent article on time.com, “U.S. suicide rates are at their highest since World War II, according to federal data—and the opioid crisis, widespread social media use and high rates of stress may be among the myriad contributing factors.” Source: https://time.com/5609124/us-suicide-rate-increase/
Suicide still remains a taboo and somewhat stigmatised topic, but we must further educate ourselves and others about it, whilst becoming familiar with the warning signs and treatments.
(If you or someone you know is seriously considering suicide right now, then it is best to contact a doctor or emergency service as soon as possible, otherwise read on for more information and tips.)

Statistics
1) Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US for all ages.
2) Every day, approximately 123 Americans die by suicide. (CDC)
3) The highest suicide rates in the US are among Whites, American Indians and Alaska Natives.
4) Only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment. (NAMI)
5) There is one suicide for every estimated 25 suicide attempts. (CDC)
6) Nearly 800,000 people die by suicide in the world each year, which is roughly one death every 40 seconds.
7) Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the world for those aged 15-24 years.
8) Suicide rates in the United States have risen significantly over the past 2 decades and are now at the highest level since World War II, federal health officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today.

Symptoms and warning signs
The warning signs of suicide are indicators that a person may be in acute danger and may urgently need help:
  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings
Cause
Suicide does not have one single cause, but the following factors may increase the likelihood of suicide in certain people:
  • 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

Tip 1: Hope and faith
The main feelings typically associated with suicide are despair, hopelessness, and desperation. The state of mind that will best help us to combat these feelings is undoubtably that of hope. Hope is defined as ‘an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large.’
When we consider the future, it tends to fall on a continuum, with a negative outlook on one side, and a corresponding positive outlook on the other. The more hope we are able to generate in the present, the closer to the positive side the future will seem. The future is always a two way process; a dynamic relationship between yourself and the world, and it could be argued that the most important variable will always be you.
In addition to making us feel better and more optimistic about the future, there is evidence that hope also plays an important part in coping with and recovering from illnesses.
Psychologist Charles Snyder suggest there are three main components to hopeful thinking:
1) Goals – Approaching life in a goal-oriented way.
2) Pathways – Finding different ways to achieve your goals.
3) Agency – Believing that you can instigate change and achieve these goals.

If hope had a brother it would be called faith, which is a strong belief in something that doesn’t have immediate or obvious evidence. Regardless of the evidence available at the time, or lack therefore, the pragmatic benefits of faith have been proven time and time again. There are also similarities between faith and other psychological phenomena, such as the placebo effect and self-fulfilling prophecies, both which can play an important role in peoples lives.

Since no one knows for certain what their life will be in 5, 10, or 25 years time, it is always better to assume things will be ok, because it engages a more positive and resilient state of mind, which better allows us to deal with the challenges and problems ahead.

Our lives are determined by both external and internal events, and since we do not always have 100% control over external events, it becomes imperative that we master the internal world, and utilising both faith and hope are a key part of that process.
Develop and practice having faith in:
1) Yourself – your talents, your strengths, your ability to overcome challenges and triumph.
2) The future – possibilities, goals, dreams, ambitions.
3) Humanity – choose to see the good in others, believe the best can happen, and hope for progress in the world.

Tip 2: Safety plan
If you have experienced suicidal feelings before, or perhaps have made previous attempts, it is strongly recommended that you 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.
– List of warning signs
– Coping strategies (what have you tried in the past which helped)
– Contact details of loved ones
– Contact details of support services
– List of favourite things (memories, music, people, places etc.)
– List of future goals and possibilities
– Steps to make the environment safe, or the details of another safe place you could visit
(Write out this plan when you are feeling well and are able to think clearly. You could discuss this plan with a therapist of trusted friend if you feel that would help)

Tip 3: Other ideas
– Avoid or limit drugs and alcohol as much as possible
– Spend more time around friends and family
– Do something you usually enjoy, such as spending time with a pet
– Just try to get through today rather than focusing on the future
– Talk about how you are feeling with someone you trust or an emotional helpline
– Contact a health professional such as your GP or Community Mental Health Team (CMHT)
– Try to do activities you enjoy and that take your mind off what you are thinking
– Try positive affirmations
– Spend more time in nature
– Set some short term goals to focus on

Quotes
“Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better.” ~ Jim Rohn
“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” ~ Victor Hugo
“When you feel like giving up, just remember the reason why you held on for so long.” ~ Unknown
“Suicide doesn’t end the chances of life getting worse, it eliminates the possibility of it ever getting any better.” ~ Unknown
“Place your hand over your heart, can you feel it? That is called purpose. You’re alive for a reason so don’t ever give up.” ~ Unknown
“If you want to kill yourself, kill what you don’t like. I had an old self that I killed. You can kill yourself too, but that doesn’t mean you got to stop living.” ~ Unknown
“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe
“The road must be trod, but it will be very hard. And neither strength nor wisdom will carry us far upon it. This quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong. Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

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