If you’re reading this, it might be you are thinking about yourself or someone you know who has experience of suicidal thoughts. Or maybe you’re just interested in knowing more about what it all means. Whatever the reason we hope you find this blog helpful.
If you’re currently thinking about – or planning towards suicide, or may be at risk of harming yourself, please seek help now. Don’t put it off, just do it – speak to someone you trust, a family member, a friend, your doctor or call Samaritans on 0845 909 090. There are more useful phone numbers at the end of this blog.
Whether it’s the first time
It’s not everyone who thinks about ending their life, however you may be surprised to know that it’s probably more common that you realise. Front line health staff will come across this at some point in their career, and some like those working in A and E more often than others. Any one of us understandably may find it difficult or upsetting to hear someone talking of suicide. Sometimes members of the public are concerned ‘if we talk about it that it will mean it’s more likely to happen’, when in fact it usually means the opposite. Having the conversation around suicide doesn’t mean it will happen. By talking we can help the person share how they feel. Health staff know that just because someone has suicidal thoughts does not mean it will happen. In many of today’s societies we are gradually moving away from the ‘stiff upper lip’, ‘brush it under the carpet’ or ‘if we just ignore it, it will go away attitude’. Talking about suicidal thoughts can be the first step in someone seeking the help they need.
When someone talks about suicide it is often an indication they want the pain or torment of their life situation to stop. More often than not if you ask someone who is expressing suicidal thoughts the question ‘if we could solve your seemingly impossible problems, or take away those strong feelings of sadness, guilt, shame etc would you still want to die? They are more likely to respond by saying something like “No! I just don’t want to live this life anymore.”
Spot the Signs and Help
Mental Health First Aid training is a great way for anyone to learn how to talk with or help someone in this situation. Here are details for Scotland www.smhfa.com , and England https://mhfaengland.org/, Northern Ireland Mental Health First Aid Training Programme | HSC Public Health Agency (hscni.net) and Wales Courses – St John Cymru Wales Training (stjohnwales.org.uk)
Some people will talk about their suicidal thoughts and others won’t. It often depends how distressing they are or if they feel they need to act on them. But some people will live with them on and off for most of their life and manage them in a way that is helpful. However, for some people experiencing suicidal thoughts will be extremely frightening, and they need to find a way of keeping themselves safe. This may mean asking for help or may mean at times they need help finding a place of safety.
Access free Training here.
Maybe you’re reading this and looking for more support. The Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) is an excellent resource for those living in Scotland. They offer a wide variety of services.
NHS 24 Living Life is another service providing help over the telephone. WE worked closely with NHS 24 in initially developing this service. It uses a cognitive behavioural based model to help you learn how to understand how you feel about yourself, others, and the world around you, to look at things differently and work on changing things to help you feel better. Go to www.nhs24.com phone 0800 328 9655
One great resource local to where you are is your own G.P. They will be able to help identify the sort of help you need, and can advise on the range of local supports available both in the NHS, as well as local community resources.
I feel so bad I can’t go on
Our award winning little book ‘I Feel So Bad I Can’t Go On’ aims to help those with suicidal thoughts recognise that suicide is not the only solution to their problems. It’s a book about hope – with a clear statement that no matter how bad things seem, things can improve with time. The book offers tips to stay alive and to start feeling good again, find a better way to ease their pain and that in time, it’s possible to start enjoying life again.
“Suicide lasts forever… Your problem doesn’t”
One of the most important things is to give time a chance to work and to start talking. By talking to someone- whether it be a friend, teacher, family member, or a helpline they can reach out to get support.
Other things that help
Get outside and walk. Take a moment to notice what is around you- the trees, the sky, the buses that pass by… anything is a good distraction from hopeless thoughts in your head.
Fill your time by doing things you like – go to the cinema, watch a movie, people watch… remember that lots of people that you watch may well have felt like you do in the past but have come through it.
Fill your time by seeing things from a different angle. Try and focus on the positive things in your life, now and in the past, like things you have learned or done well.
Write down 2 or 3 things you are grateful for. Researcher have found that doing this on most days can be effective in improving how we feel.
Write Your Life Story- take the focus off how you are feeling just now and write your life story…. Or a time or place that you once enjoyed. What might happen, if you don’t end it all… what are your hopes and dreams? Anything is possible.
If you don’t feel like doing anything, then just try to do any of the above things anyway, just this once and see what happens. For example, it never feels good to think about tidying the house, but once you’ve done it, you may notice a real sense of achievement. So, fill your time, talking walking eating seeing and you’ll soon feel better even if it’s only for a short time. You can then build on these activities over the coming days and maybe even start to seek additional help such as counselling or a talking therapy for ongoing support or treatment.
Our book I feel so bad I can’t go on, shares all the reasons to stay alive… suicide is the end. It stops everything, you’ll never feel bad again, but then you’ll never feel good again either. But the worse thing is your friends and family will miss you dearly forever. Try and think about a new beginning… choose to stay alive, it’s like starting again. With time you can fix your bad feelings, and get to feel positive new things in your life. Meet new people and love the ones you already know a bit more.
What doesn’t help
Avoid alcohol and try to break the cycle of upsetting and unhelpful thinking or behaviours.
You can use our ‘Unhelpful Thinking Styles’ worksheet to help you to work out if you are ‘mind reading’ – imagining what other people think about you. It will also help you spot other common unhelpful thinking styles and learn how to respond differently when thoughts like this pop into mind.
So, what do we do about these unhelpful thoughts that go round in our heads? Is it possible just to not think about something when it is in our heads? It can be difficult to just forget something that is bothering you, so here is an effective way to deal with bad thoughts and bust them for good.
Our Amazing Unhelpful Thought Busting Program (AUBTBP) has 5 steps. Find our associated worksheets and resources here, for free download.
Step 1: Label It- spot unhelpful thoughts as soon as they enter your head and give it an ‘unhelpful thought’ label. It is important to recognise an unhelpful thought for what it is- it isn’t real or truth. Is it an unhelpful thinking style, mind reading, or are you catastrophising? Criticising yourself and beating yourself up? You can use the unhelpful thinking styles workhseet to do this. When you label an unhelpful thought, it loses it’s power and loses its strength.
Step 2: Leave It- let it be, imagine it’s in a corner by itself, just let it be. An unhelpful thought is like a celebrity, it thrives on attention! Leaving it lets it shuffle away. If the thought is still really loud and insistent, then you need to move on to the next step.
Step 3: Stand Up to It! Unhelpful Thoughts are like bullies! So, stand up to it, like you would to a bully. Unhelpful thoughts sound strong but are weak underneath and remember that it is only a thought and not the truth.
Step 4: Be kind to yourself. If an unhelpful thought is telling you you’re useless or bound to fail, give yourself the same advice that a loved one would tell you. Think of someone you trust – what kind words of encouragement would they say?
Step 5: Look at things differently… Imagine if it was a friend experiencing the same feelings and not you. What would you say to them?
It is also worth putting the thought or worry into a true perspective- will it matter in 6 days, 6 weeks or 6 months? Or try thinking how others would deal with the problem.
By using any or all of these techniques you will learn techniques you can use to respond differently to unhelpful thoughts.
Self-harm, cutting might give a temporary feeling of relief when you feel bad, but cutting can sometimes go really wrong and you can seriously damage yourself and be left with scars for life. So, cutting is best not done. Or if you feel compelled to it’s important to do it safely.
When you feel down you may feel like pushing people away. Even if you don’t feel like seeing people, you’ll feel so much better when you can talk to someone you trust. Surfing the internet and finding chatrooms can often seem like the answer to your problems, but sometimes these chatrooms and websites can have the wrong information and lead you down a worse path. So, it’s important to look at genuine sites such as: www.nhsinform.scot or www.nhs.uk.
What Can I do If I Feel So Bad, I Can’t Go On?
Have hope… hopelessness can kill. However bad you feel, give it time, reach out for help and keep talking and things will get better. Try and identify what sets off your hopeless feelings. Is it a person/people, problems, or a pattern of behaviour like relationships, drugs, alcohol, or an eating disorder? We have a list of useful telephone numbers at the bottom of this page for more help available.
Some useful numbers:
NHS 24 Scotland 111 www.nhs24.scot NHS 111 (non emergency) or 999 (emergency)
Breathing Space Scotland 0800 838 587 breathingspace.scot
Or write to Chris, P.O Box 90, Stirling, FK8 2SA
Domestic Violence 0808 2000 247 www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk
Bullying 0808 800 2222 www.bullying.co.uk
Childline 0800 1111 www.childline.org.uk
Papyrus- HopeLine 0800 068 4141www.papyrus-uk.org (for young people thinking about suicide or for others worried about them)
CALM Campaign Against Living Miserably 0800 585858 www.thecalmzone.net (prevention of male suicide)
If you are a member of the public we are offering two for one on our I feel so bad I can’t go on book. Please read one and take another and leave it somewhere where it might help someone else too – in a waiting room, in a bus stop, in a library. It might just help someone to decide to live. Buy the book here.
We hope you have found this helpful in some way.
The Living Life to the Full Team.