Ways to cope with suicidal thoughts
Remember that while it may seem as if these suicidal thoughts and feelings will never end, this is never a permanent condition. You WILL feel better again. In the meantime, there are some ways to help cope with your suicidal thoughts and feelings.
If You Have Suicidal Thoughts and Feelings
|Things to do:|
|Talk with someone every day, preferably face to face. Though you feel like withdrawing, ask trusted friends and acquaintances to spend time with you. Or continue to call a crisis helpline and talk about your feelings.|
|Make a safety plan. Develop a set of steps that you can follow during a suicidal crisis. It should include contact numbers for your doctor or therapist, as well as friends and family members who will help in an emergency.|
|Make a written schedule for yourself every day and stick to it, no matter what. Keep a regular routine as much as possible, even when your feelings seem out of control.|
|Get out in the sun or into nature for at least 30 minutes a day.|
|Exercise as vigorously as is safe for you. To get the most benefit, aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day. But you can start small. Three 10-minute bursts of activity can have a positive effect on mood.|
|Make time for things that bring you joy. Even if very few things bring you pleasure at the moment, force yourself to do the things you used to enjoy.|
|Remember your personal goals. You may have always wanted to travel to a particular place, read a specific book, own a pet, move to another place, learn a new hobby, volunteer, go back to school, or start a family. Write your personal goals down.|
|Things to avoid:|
|Being alone. Solitude can make suicidal thoughts even worse. Visit a friend, or family member, or pick up the phone and call a crisis helpline.|
|Alcohol and drugs. Drugs and alcohol can increase depression, hamper your problem-solving ability, and can make you act impulsively.|
|Doing things that make you feel worse. Listening to sad music, looking at certain photographs, reading old letters, or visiting a loved one’s grave can all increase negative feelings.|
|Thinking about suicide and other negative thoughts. Try not to become preoccupied with suicidal thoughts as this can make them even stronger. Don’t think and rethink negative thoughts. Find a distraction. Giving yourself a break from suicidal thoughts can help, even if it’s for a short time.|
Coping with suicidal thoughts: the first steps
You’re not alone. Feeling suicidal doesn’t mean you’re flawed, crazy, or broken. It means you have more pain than you can cope with right now.
Step #1: Promise not to do anything right now
Even though you’re in a lot of pain right now, give yourself some distance between thoughts and action. Make a promise to yourself: “I will wait 24 hours and won’t do anything drastic during that time.” Or, wait a week.
Thoughts and actions are two different things—your suicidal thoughts do not have to become a reality. There’s is no deadline, no one’s pushing you to act on these thoughts immediately. Wait. Wait and put some distance between your suicidal thoughts and suicidal action.
Step #2: Avoid drugs and alcohol
Suicidal thoughts can become even stronger if you have taken drugs or alcohol. It is important to not use nonprescription drugs or alcohol when you feel hopeless or are thinking about suicide.
Step #3: Make your home safe
Remove things you could use to hurt yourself, such as pills, knives, razors, or firearms. If you are unable to do so, go to a place where you can feel safe. If you are thinking of taking an overdose, give your medicines to someone who can return them to you one day at a time as you need them.
Step #4: Take hope—people DO get through this
Even people who feel as badly as you are feeling now manage to survive these feelings. Take hope in this. There is a very good chance that you are going to live through these feelings, no matter how much self-loathing, hopelessness, or isolation you are currently experiencing. Just give yourself the time needed and don’t try to go it alone.
Step #5: Don’t keep these suicidal feelings to yourself
Many of us have found that the first step to coping with suicidal thoughts and feelings is to share them with someone we trust. It may be a friend, a therapist, a member of the clergy, a teacher, a family doctor, a coach, or an experienced counselor at the end of a helpline. Find someone you trust and let them know how bad things are. Don’t let fear, shame, or embarrassment prevent you from seeking help. Just talking about how you got to this point in your life can release a lot of the pressure that’s building up and help you find a way to cope.
If you don’t know who to turn to:
In the U.S. – Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the National Hopeline Network at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433). These toll-free crisis hotlines offer 24-hour suicide prevention and support. Your call is free and confidential.
Are you feeling suicidal? Do you have someone to turn to or talk with about your feelings? You’re not alone. You’re not crazy. You can live past this unbearable moment you’re in.
This week I’m focusing my articles on suicide. Not many people are comfortable discussing suicide. That’s a personal choice. But the silence, the stigma, the shame of suicide must end. So I’ll facilitate that by discussing suicide this week.
Depression isn’t a personal choice. It happens. Depression doesn’t always end in suicide. But suicide always has depression at its root.
Suicide is a choice. You might believe suicide is a poor choice. That there were other options, ways out of the situation. You could be right. But for the person suffering, suicide is the only good choice seen at the moment to stop the pain.
Suicide is a worldwide epidemic. It’s estimated that one person dies from suicide every 13 minutes. Those are the reported suicides. There are so many millions more unreported deaths.
People are killing themselves in mass numbers throughout the world. From farmers to business people, children to adults suicide happens. Gender, race, religion – these don’t matter when it comes to suicide.
Ways to kill yourself range from simple to elaborate. Suicide can be spur of the moment emotional reaction, or a planned death. The death can look like suicide or, more commonly, like an accident.
Researchers know there are thousands of causes for depression. They know that depression is the cause of suicide. But researchers don’t have absolute cures for depression. Until depression is talked about like cancer, with massive fundraisers and community campaigns, depression will continue to silently kill.
Are you feeling suicidal? If so, there is someone out there willing and wanting to help you. To talk to you.
If you’re feeling suicidal right now…
Please call for help! Call 1-800-273-TALK in the U.S., or visit IASP to find a helpline in your country. Or talk to someone you trust and let them know how bad things are.
If you’re a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and are thinking about taking your own life, please contact a suicide helpline and read PTSD in Military Veterans for ways you can start feeling better today.
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I want to tell you about my experience with depression. I think God allows some of us to experience it in our lives. But we can have hope in the midst of it, and we can go up from depression.
As a young mother, I fell into a deep post-partum depression. Attacks of depression continued over seven years. They would vary in length with the longest period lasting for nine months. I lived in a very isolated area and rarely visited a doctor or talked with other people. One thing I continued to do though, was talk to God and cry out in my despair.
Up From Depression
I’m a Christian. I recognized at a very early age my need for God and His deep love for me. Years later, I was in the pit of despair, crying out to a God that I felt had abandoned me.
I thought Christians shouldn’t be depressed. My husband and friends couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. Their comments pushed me to a place of deeper despair. Again, I called out to God for help. Where was He? Had I so disappointed Him that He would not hear me? When I felt most tormented I would read my Bible looking for relief and comfort.
In the following Bible passages God spoke to me:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
“Oh Lord, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O Lord.
You hem me in – behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me;
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, ‘‘Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is a light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, 0 God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would out number the grains of sand.
When I awake I am still with you.
If only you would slay the wicked, 0 God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, 0 Lord, and abhor those who rise up against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
Search me, 0 God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting”
Slowly, these truths began to touch my heart. God began to show me the steps I needed to take in order to begin my journey up from depression. As I stepped out in faith, believing the truths and principles that He had shown me, I began to realize God’s plan for my life.
How do You Gain Victory Over Depression?
I can only speak to you from my own experience. I’ve found the following helpful in dealing with depression and releasing me from its hold:
- Recognize that God is with you and has always been with you.
- Realize that He has a plan for your life.
- Relinquish control of your life to God.
- Replace negative thoughts with positive and truthful thoughts.
- Rely on God because He is at work in your life.
In order to take these steps, you will need the power that only the Holy Spirit can give. God wants to be our leverage in living, empowering us to feel better about ourselves, more excited about our future, more grateful for those we love and more enthusiastic about our faith.
* Special thanks to Barbara Epp for her story
Here’s a question and a call to action: What can you do now to help support someone with a mental illness? Please leave a comment. Also please consider subscribing to my blog and feel free to follow me on Twitter, or “like” my Facebook page. Thanks!