Suicidal thoughts and me
World Suicide Prevention Day 2023
Trigger warning: this blog contains detailed descriptions of suicidal thoughts. Click here to find links to crisis support services and hotlines.
If you feel like you are unsafe and are at risk of harming yourself, call 999, your local crisis team, or go to A&E. You can also call the Samaritans for free on 116 123.
Every year on 10 September we mark World Suicide Prevention Day, a day for raising awareness and reminding ourselves why our suicide prevention work is so important – because every life lost to suicide is one too many.
This year, Claire revisits her experiences of living with suicidal thoughts and shares her perspective on how to support others who are dealing with similar thoughts. Claire is our former digital communications officer who originally shared these powerful words with us in 2019.
Suicidal thoughts are a part of my life
Suicide has played a large part in my mental health journey. I’ve been experiencing suicidal thoughts since I was a teenager, long before I was diagnosed with bipolar. For the most part I’ve got through things with help from family, but on a few occasions, I’ve acted on those feelings and been lucky to walk away.
What drives someone to the point where they try taking their own life?
For me there wasn’t an outside force causing the feelings, I wasn’t being bullied or experiencing problems at work. The issue was much deeper, inside of me.
The thoughts are intrusive, they get into every part of your life, they are mean, nasty and persistent. They grind you down until there’s no strength left to fight and as much as you know that the thoughts you’re having aren’t real, that the things they are telling you are not true, you believe every word, and this cycle continues until you give in to them because living any longer is just unimaginable.
My family wanted to know what they could have done to prevent this from happening. Truth is, nothing short of watching me 24/7. They did everything you’re advised to do when someone is suicidal: gave me an open door to talk to them, asked questions, offered help and support, got me outside help. None of this though could compete with the thoughts and feelings I was having.
There are things you can do to help someone who is suicidal
Sometimes all it takes is someone coming forward to help turn things around. The most important thing I would suggest is to speak to the person you want to help. Be yourself, make it clear you understand they are struggling but don’t dwell on it. Talking about everyday things can really make a difference.
Another thing you can do is to help them get help. It’s not easy asking for help and sometimes having a hand to hold while you do it can make the difference. Make a plan with them, how they will cope, with down time especially, and who they will speak to to get company from so they aren’t alone with their feelings.
Finally, be there for them emotionally, they may have a lot of baggage they need to get off their chest and having someone to talk to really helps.
I still fight suicidal feelings
I’m fighting them as I write this and they are draining my strength and making it very hard to focus on anything else. As always, my family are great checking in with me, offering me help, talking to me about how I’m doing. I have a friend who despite his own troubles is there for me and getting me out of the house. They are all doing what I need and I’m sure I can get through this.
Suicide prevention is so important and reaching out to someone can save their life.
Where to find support for suicidal thoughts and feelings
If you have experienced suicidal thoughts before, reading about them can be very upsetting or uncomfortable. Even if you feel like it’s long in the past, it’s normal to feel triggered or have some difficult emotions bubble up. When this happens, it’s important to give yourself space and time to find your balance again. Here are some online resources from mental health charity Mind that may help:
- Relaxing and calming exercises – ideas for exercises to try if you’re feeling anxious, stressed, scared or upset.
- What can I do to help myself cope? – tips, tools and strategies on self-soothing and coping with upsetting thoughts.
- How can I distract myself? – ideas about ways to shift your focus if you’re finding your thoughts and feelings too difficult to process.
If you feel you need support right now because you’re having a mental health crisis, visit our crisis support page for links to services and hotlines.
Our suicide prevention and support services and projects in Bristol and the Southwest
- The Sanctuary Bristol – immediate out-of-hours mental health support for people in Bristol.
- Somerset Crisis Safe Space – immediate out-of-hours mental health crisis support for people in Somerset.
- Safe Haven Crisis & Recovery Centre – immediate out-of-hours mental health crisis support in Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset.
- Stepladder – our men’s mental health project to help men in Somerset connect, take part in activities, and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
- The Hope Project – our male suicide prevention project providing a mix of practical and emotional support to help men aged 30-64 find a way forward from the problems affecting their mental health.
- Next Steps – support for people in Somerset who have recently left hospital to help them settle back into the community.
Recently lost somebody to suicide? – Bereavement support in Bristol and the Southwest
Our Beside Project provides emotional and practical support to people in Bristol, North Somerset, Bath & North East Somerset, and South Gloucestershire who have recently lost a loved one to suicide.