Suicidal thoughts or ideations are perhaps the most worrying of all mental health symptoms.
These desperate thoughts can come from anywhere: sometimes it may be due to years of untreated mental health problems; other times, people experience difficulties in life and feel like suicide is the only solution.
It’s quite common for people with suicidal thoughts to feel that they are a burden on their family members or friends and that the world would be better off without them.
They may also keep their thoughts and fears to themselves, to the point where they avoid seeking help because they worry they will be judged, because there is so much stigma attached to mental health issues.
If you have been having suicidal thoughts, or know somebody who is, please reach out to professionals for help as soon as possible.
What May Lead to Suicidal Thoughts?
Suicidal thoughts can be perpetuated by a variety of circumstances such as a mental health condition, a traumatic event like an accident, assault, bullying, past physical or sexual abuse, chronic pain or illness, social isolation and loneliness, drug or alcohol misuse, as well as stressful life events such as divorce, the death of a loved one, or a job loss.
The following signs are often experienced, along with the suicidal thoughts:
- Ongoing sadness, depression or mood swings;
- Feelings of hopelessness or helpless, and that things will never get better;
- Changes in sleep habits, such as sleeping too much or too little;
- Withdrawing from family and friends as well as activities that were once enjoyed;
- Unusual changes in personality or behaviours
- Neglecting personal appearance and hygiene;
- Risk taking through reckless driving, or substance abuse;
- Tying up loose ends such as paying off debts, giving away possessions, thanking or saying goodbye to loved ones;
- Sudden calmness or happiness after a period of depression; this could indicate that the person has decided to commit suicide;
- Researching ways of committing suicide;
- Expressing a wish to die or threatening suicide.
How to Respond to Suicidal Thoughts
1: Identify your triggers – Certain behaviours such as drinking alcohol or taking drugs, constant arguments or fights with your partner, feeling shame or guilt, watching certain movies or TV shows, and being lonely can trigger your arousal thoughts.
2: Crisis support lines – If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact one or more of the following:
- Lifeline 13 11 41
- Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
- Or dial 000.
3: Self-care – Establish a self-care plan can help you to eliminate your distressing thoughts. Your self-care plan may include such things as exercise, prayer, meditation, visiting family members, spending time on social media, talking to your loved one on the phone or by video chat can possibly increase your positive mood.
4: Create a safety plan – Your safety plan may include, but is not limited to: writing down reasons for you to live, meaningful activities, important people in your life, and your copying strategy.
5: Seek professional help – Below is a short video that highlights the evidence-based therapeutic interventions that can be helpful for anybody experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Remember: You are not alone – There are many ways to overcome your thoughts, find help.
Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle – Christian D Larson
Author: Vishal Patel, M Social Work, AASW, AMHSW.
Vishal Patel is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, with significant experience in working with victims of trauma, abuse and violence. His area of interest includes addressing significant complex and challenging behaviours in children under the age of 12 years. He is able to provide therapy in English, Gujarati, Hindi and Urdu.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3067 9129.