What Is Suicide?
Suicide is the act of intentionally ending your life.
If you’re reading this because you have, or have had, thoughts about taking your own life, it’s important you ask someone for help. It’s probably difficult for you to see at this time, but you’re not alone and not beyond help.
Many people who have had suicidal thoughts say they were so overwhelmed by negative feelings they felt they had no other option. However, with support and treatment they were able to allow the negative feelings to pass.
Information & Text: The NHS Website, UK
Getting help: Numbers
If you are feeling suicidal, there are people you can talk to who want to help:
- speak to a friend, family member or someone you trust as they may be able to help you calm down and find some relief
- make an urgent appointment to see your GP
Worried someone else is suicidal?
If you’re worried that someone you know may be considering suicide, try to encourage them to talk about how they are feeling. Listening is the best way to help. Try to avoid offering solutions and try not to judge.
If they’ve previously been diagnosed with a mental health condition, such as depression, you can speak to a member of their care team for help and advice.
Why do some people take their own life?
There’s no single reason why someone may try to take their own life, but certain things can increase the risk. Many experts believe a number of things determine how vulnerable a person is to suicidal thinking and behaviour. These include:
- life history – for example, having a traumatic experience during childhood, a history of sexual or physical abuse, or a history of parental neglect
- mental health – for example, developing a serious mental health condition, such as bipolar disorder or depression
- lifestyle – for example, if you misuse drugs or alcohol
- employment – such as poor job security, low levels of job satisfaction or being unemployed
- relationships – being socially isolated, being a victim of bullying or having few close relationships
- genetics and family history
In addition, a stressful event may push a person “over the edge”, leading to suicidal thinking and behaviour.
It may only take a minor event, such as having an argument with a partner. Or it may take one or more stressful or upsetting events before a person feels suicidal, such as the break-up of a significant relationship, a partner dying or being diagnosed with a terminal illness.
It’s not always possible to prevent suicidal thoughts, but keeping your mind healthy with regular exercise, healthy eating and maintaining friendships can help you cope better with stressful or upsetting situations.
Many people who self-harm don’t want to kill themselves. Self-harming can be a kind of “survival strategy”, providing a person with a way of coping with overwhelming emotions.
However, self-harming is usually a sign that a person needs immediate help and support.
How To Offer Support
One of the best things you can do if you think someone may be feeling suicidal is to encourage them to talk about their feelings and to listen to what they say.
Talking about someone’s problems is not always easy and it may be tempting to try to provide a solution. But often the most important thing you can do to help is listen to what they have to say.
If there is an immediate danger, make sure they are not left on their own.
Do not judge
It’s also important not to make judgements about how a person is thinking and behaving. You may feel that certain aspects of their thinking and behaviour are making their problems worse. For example, they may be drinking too much alcohol.
However, pointing this out will not be particularly helpful to them. Reassurance, respect and support can help someone during these difficult periods.
Asking questions can be a useful way of letting a person remain in control while allowing them to talk about how they’re feeling. Try not to influence what the person says, but give them the opportunity to talk honestly and openly.
Open ended questions such as “Where did that happen?” and “How did that feel?” will encourage them to talk. It’s best to avoid statements that could possibly end the conversation, such as “I know how you feel” and “Try not to worry about it”.
Getting professional help
Although talking to someone about their feelings can help them feel safe and secure, these feelings may not last. It will probably require long-term support to help someone overcome their suicidal thoughts. This will most likely be easier with professional help.