Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Whilst this is something to talk and think about any day of the year, today is a good day to remember to take care of each other. Take a look around you – are there any of your friends or family who seem to be struggling more than usual? Are there people that you haven’t heard from in a while, that are perhaps behaving differently, or withdrawing from the world? Take today as a chance to take stock & see if there is anyone you might want to reach out to. We never really know what is going on inside for many people, but we can all ask ‘how are you?’, and really take time to listen to the answer.
This year, perhaps more than others, people may be feeling particularly vulnerable and low. Our usual coping mechanisms and social connections have become limited, and there are perhaps greater uncertainties around the future. Now more than ever is a good time to pick up the phone & check in on people. Try not to worry that you might not have the answers if someone tells you they are really depressed, or they want to kill themselves. No-one is asking you to solve this. But having someone to listen, who can empathise with how painful that must feel, can be really helpful. Talking about suicide doesn't make it more likely to happen. You never know how life changing it can be to have someone notice you are there. There is some really great advice here on how to have these sorts of conversations: https://www.rethink.org/advice-and-information/carers-hub/suicidal-thoughts-how-to-support-someone/
If you are struggling with feelings around suicide, please speak to someone. If not someone you know and trust, then perhaps someone at the Samaritans (https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/ or call 116 123), or a similar organisation. There is no shame in admitting things are too much for you right now. Sharing the burden of your feelings can sometimes really help to relieve even just a little of the pressure you are under. If you are feeling this way some things that might help could be:
· Focus on the here and now. What can you do to get through this moment, this hour, this day? The future can wait. You can still make this decision tomorrow or in the future if you still want to, but there may be other options open to you
· If you can, avoid alcohol and drugs
· Try to be around other people
· If possible, get yourself to a safe place such as a friend’s house
· Try to do something you might ordinarily enjoy that helps take your mind away from your thoughts (even if you don’t feel you will enjoy it right now).
· Contact a professional, such as your GP or a Community Mental Health Team
· If you have seriously hurt yourself, or feel you are about to, call emergency services or go to Accident & Emergency (A&E)
· Do you have a safety/crisis plan – things that you can do to help you stay safe? If not, perhaps you can put one together. Have a look here for ideas: https://stayingsafe.net
· Try to stay away from things that you know trigger you and make you feel worse – it could be places, people, certain songs or photos, for example.
When I was in my early teens I went through a long period of time where I had suicidal thoughts. I never decided to act on them, but I didn’t tell anyone either. I felt so lost and alone, and the shame became unbearable. I turned to unhealthy coping mechanisms that only blunted the pain for a short time. I wish I had known what I know now – that talking and sharing can be so helpful, that it isn’t shameful and that it’s not unusual. Perhaps then I would not have suffered so long or so deeply. It can be a terribly isolating and suffocating place. But there is help available, and you can get through this. I’m glad I made the choice every day to keep carrying on. You can too.
* image credit: ptcij.org