Suicide is also not a cowardly act; it is a public health issue. The global suicide mortality rate is 1.4% of all deaths worldwide.
Suicide is also the most preventable form of death. With 80 percent of suicidal people showing warning signs, we have a high chance of identifying these red flags in a loved one or a known one. These signs often show up as changes in their behavior, conduct, and speech. If we learn to spot them we can help them.
Suicide prevention efforts often depend on the disclosure of suicidal ideation (SI), which is an early stage in the suicidal process.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, immediately reach out to someone and talk to them about your thoughts and feelings. You are not alone, no matter what circumstances may lead you to believe. If you can’t find anyone to talk to, walk into your nearest doctor’s office and tell them about your thoughts.
September is World Suicide Prevention Month.
September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day.
People with thoughts of suicide feel relief when someone inquires about them in a caring way, as research finds. Study findings suggest acknowledging and discussing suicide may decrease rather than increase suicidal ideation.
The Lifeline for Attempt Survivors is for those who have attempted suicide and their loved ones. The website has stories from survivors who have made it through their darkest hours.
Suicidal thoughts are symptoms of underlying mental health issues, much like the symptoms of any physical health problem. They can be treated so they improve over time. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately. Call Suicide Helpline or a healthcare professional to talk about what you are thinking or feeling. Reach out.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, USA: 1-800-273-8255 and 988
- Suicidal Helpline, India (AASRA): 91-9820466726 and 022-27546669
- Samaritans, United Kingdom: 116-123
5 Ways To Overcome Suicidal Thoughts
All suicidal thoughts (clinically termed “suicidal ideation”) must be dealt with seriously. If you think you can’t overcome them on your own, contact a doctor or hospital immediately, or call a crisis helpline. If you come across a friend or relative who you think might be suicidal, help them get in contact with a healthcare professional.
Suicidal thoughts are never sudden. They tend to occur following a series of depressing events leading to a person losing their hope and optimism in life.
One vital thing to always keep in mind, having suicidal thoughts is not being weak, or flawed, or insane. Some of our finest and strongest have lived through these dark and hopeless situations.
Suicidal ideas may appear as passing thoughts, frequent fantasies, or strong urges. These are ominous signs of underlying mental illness. Sometimes, suicidal thoughts can also be the fallout of abuse, torture, or online trolling.
This is a helpful page for those having suicidal thoughts: 100 Ways to Get Through the Next 5 Minutes.
If you are having thoughts and ideas of self-harm, here are five effective ways to deal with suicidal thoughts:
1. Give Yourself Positive Affirmations
This is one of the toughest things to do in depression. But if you are determined to overcome suicidal thoughts when in depression, you can give yourself positive affirmations.
Positive affirmations are statements of coping that you make to yourself.
The secret is to keep repeating them to yourself, silently, audibly, visually. Keep playing these positive affirmations in a loop in your mind. One example:
I am creating the support I need to stay alive, one day at a time.
When negative, self-harming thoughts come to mind, positive affirmations can help you go through a rough day, make you feel better about yourself, and nudge you to ask for help.
As an example, you could tell yourself:
That’s my depression talking, not me. I’m under a chemical imbalance in my brain that is distorting my reality. I actually don’t want to die. I only want to end my suffering. For that, I need to stay strong to go out and seek help.
Whatever is troubling you and making you feel sad, try to consciously replace your thoughts about it. Instead, talk to yourself in a positive way about yourself. It may appear difficult at first, but with experience, you will learn how to talk yourself out of self-deprecating thoughts and ideas.
I don’t need to die. I just need to persist and be strong long enough, and I’ll get through this.
Whenever suicidal thoughts begin to clutter your mind, tell yourself you are strong enough to face and overcome them. Remind yourself that life is lovely and you are lovable. Assure yourself of your mental strength. Build a wall of hope around you to protect yourself while also allowing you to reach out to others whenever you feel the need to.
This is just a temporary crisis. If I let my inner strength take control, I will successfully row myself out of these harming thoughts. Row, row, row your boat!
2. Reach Out And Talk To Someone
The pain of depression can be treated. The best way to overcome depression or suicidal thoughts is to talk about them. Express it to someone you are comfortable with.
Reach out and talk to someone you feel will understand you and listen to you patiently.
In case you feel lost and lonely while having suicidal thoughts, contact a psychological counselor. You may also call the suicide prevention helpline in your country to help you in these dire situations of your life.
People suffering from depression often end up making their problems insuperably big by overthinking. So they end up feeling it can no longer be dealt with by anyone, or suicide is the only answer.
Remember, such thoughts are happening only because you are unwell. Your self-harm thoughts are your depression showing its symptoms, like any other disease.
Reach out to someone. You don’t have to do it alone.
Reach out to the person who will listen to you and not leave you alone in your crisis. Get help from a trained professional as soon as you can.
If you reach out to the right counselor or doctor at the right time, you can overcome your suicidal thoughts quickly. Even though suicidal thoughts might seem unbeatable and incurable, they can be resolved with treatment if consulted.
3. Stay Away From Negative People
Strictly avoid anyone who triggers or aggravates your condition. Anyone who talks negatively or brings you down, make a conscious choice to stay away from them. People are prone to have more suicidal thoughts if they are not surrounded by the right people.
Stay off those who bring you down, abuse you, torture you, or troll you.
Get to know yourself better, but in the meantime, stay away from people who belittle you and criticize your actions, behavior, appearance, or achievements. Instead, reach out to people who understand your vulnerability and welcome you into a safe environment.
4. Avoid Alcohol, Drugs, Weapons
If you are aware of your condition, make sure you keep away all the lethal weapons or medicines that may cause you harm. The aim is to overcome your self-destructive thoughts without getting hurt, so promise yourself regularly to not do something that may be life-threatening.
Avoid alcohol and all kinds of drugs at all costs. Using these will render your brain more inefficient at thinking logically. As a result, you would jeopardize your safety.
Keep your home safe for yourself.
Suicide attempts are not always successful. There have been times where people end up in worse situations than they might not have even dreamt of.
5. Take Proper Medications
Suicidal thoughts are almost always symptoms of an underlying illness. You need to be or stay on proper prescription medication if you are harboring suicidal thoughts.
Follow the medication regimen prescribed by your doctor. Feel free to ask them for advice when in doubt.
Do not stop your medications unless asked by your doctor. Also, talk to your doctor in case you are feeling uneasy with the medications or not getting the expected results.
Getting the better of your depression is not just your fight with yourself, so don’t go alone. Seek the help of friends, relatives, and specialists at the first signs of you finding it unable to overcome them on your own.
One simple way to keep away from your toxic thoughts is to keep yourself busy doing what you love to do. You could take up a hobby such as playing a musical instrument, singing, writing, dancing, or enrolling in some learning classes to keep your brain occupied.
Keeping yourself occupied with a challenging but engaging activity might shift your focus to a thing that can relax you whenever you want. In time, your destructive thoughts will become less severe and less frequent.
All of us can help prevent suicide. Every September, mental health organizations and individuals around the world intensify their efforts to raise awareness of suicide prevention. September is National Suicide Prevention Month.
How You Can Save Lives
Suicide is not a criminal act; it was decriminalized in India in 2017. Remember, suicide is a public health issue. We all have roles to play to prevent it. Here are a few pointers on what you can do to help reduce the incidence:
1. If you have time, volunteer for a Suicide Prevention helpline. Dedicated volunteers run these helplines with little financial support. Find out your city’s helpline and ask them how you can join in their efforts. Here is a list of suicide prevention helplines in India: Suicide Prevention Helplines—The Health Collective India.
2. If you are a teacher, community leader, police officer, social worker, HR staff, or manager, do a Gatekeeper training course. It will improve your knowledge and skills to identify people at risk, determine the level of risk, and refer them for treatment.
3. If you are a journalist, studies have shown that responsible media reporting does help reduce suicides. Evidence shows that 1-2% of suicides can be related to media reporting, which means if there are 800,000 people a year dying by suicide, media reporting can prevent 8,000 to 16,000 of these deaths. Avoid detailed descriptions of the method, sensationalism, glamourizing, or oversimplification. Educate people about suicide & treatment, provide information on where to seek help. Read the WHO guidelines on Media Reporting of Suicides. Educate people about suicide & treatment, provide information on where to seek help.
4. While there is rarely a single reason behind a person’s decision to choose suicide, we must note that one-third of suicides are associated with interpersonal or family violence, and alcohol is implicated in another one-third of cases. Individuals with suicidal thoughts often turn to alcohol, and alcohol increases suicidal thoughts. Suicides can be reduced by decreasing family violence and the harmful use of alcohol.
5. Remember that depression is treatable. People can make a full recovery & live long fulfilling lives. If you know someone who is depressed, encourage them to seek treatment. It is free in public hospitals across the country.
6. Suicides are preventable. Download WHO’s Community Engagement Toolkit on Preventing Suicide. Stop being fatalistic about suicide. When talking about someone’s suicide, do not use the terms “successful,” “unsuccessful,” or a “failed attempt,” but use “died by suicide,” “completed suicide,” or “killed him/herself.”
7. Most people who die by suicide exhibit warning signs, so refrain from describing an act of suicide as “inexplicable” or “without warning.” Encourage your area’s legislative representatives to push for a local suicide prevention strategy. 250,000 Indians need not die unnecessarily every year.
Being there can save someone’s life.
Final Words: Myths About Suicide
MYTH 1: Talking about suicide is a bad idea, as it may be seen as encouragement. – FALSE.
TRUE: Rather than encouraging suicide, talking openly helps prevent suicide. Talking about suicide reduces the risk. We must all join hands to remove the taboo around discussing suicide and its prevention.
MYTH 2: A person who is suicidal is determined to die. – FALSE.
TRUE. Suicidal people, on the other hand, are frequently ambivalent about dying. Providing emotional support at the right time can help prevent suicide.
MYTH 3: Most suicides happen without warning. – FALSE.
TRUE. Most suicides are preceded by warning signs, either verbal or behavioral. Many will talk to friends & relatives or doctors about wanting to die. Don’t ignore the red flags—it can save someone’s life.
MYTH 4: People who talk about suicide do not mean to do it. – FALSE.
TRUE. People who talk about suicide may be reaching out for help or support. They may feel there is no other option. You can help. Sit down. Listen to them. Offer help. You will save a life. Tell them you are available to listen to them and invite them to talk.
MYTH 5: Once someone is suicidal, they will always remain suicidal. – FALSE.
TRUE. Suicidal thoughts are not permanent. They are usually short-term and situation-specific. Many people who have suicidal thoughts and attempts go on to have long lives if they receive support at the right time.
MYTH 6: Only people with mental illness are suicidal. – FALSE.
TRUE. Especially in India, where research shows only ~50% have a pre-existing mental illness. People with mental illness are not necessarily suicidal & those who die of suicide do not necessarily have a mental illness.
Finally, let us state that any information in this post is no substitute for professional medical advice. For USA, the National Suicide Prevention Helpline (by U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Vibrant Emotional Health) can be found here: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ and 1-800-273-8255. For India, here is the Suicide Prevention Helpline Directory: http://www.aasra.info/helpline.html
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Research shows depression can be fought back effectively with mindfulness.
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy—a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes popular science articles on happiness, positive psychology, and related topics.
• Our story: Happiness Project
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