What to do if you feel suicidal or someone you care about does
This is an old post: revised and updated to better help you or those you know who struggle with suicidal thoughts.
These are still words that need to be heard. Because I want you to understand, that even if it doesn't feel like it, you matter!
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It may not feel like it right now, but this will not last forever, because nothing can stay the same forever.
Dear beautiful soul,
There are times in your life where you are going to feel like you just can’t take anymore. That you just want to stop the pain. End it because it feels like it is never going to stop, that is just going to keep coming. The voices in your head that tell you- You are worthless, that no cares, that the world would be better off without you, that you deserve your pain, and on and on. Those voices are wrong. You are worthy, you are beautiful, I care, the world needs you (really it does, there is only one you who does what you do) you matter, your life matters, you will be missed, even if right now you feel desperately alone, you are not, people love you whether you realize it or not. You just have to make it through this moment, this moment that feels like you are dropped below rock bottom. This moment that you feel the weight of the world suffocating you.
This moment is going to pass, that is the beautiful thing about time, it passes and you my friend just have to make it through this moment.
To make it through here are some things you can do:
1. Focus on your breathing. Slowing breathing in and out. Focus on the breath. Feel it filling your body and leaving. Feel the body move throughout your body. Feel in nourishing you. Try to do this for at least 1 minute. Visualize each in breath bring newness and each exhale releasing and clearing. Visualize each breath filling you with gold. If your mind starts to wander or thoughts start to intrude gentle bring yourself back to your breath.
2. Turn on your favorite music, the music that makes you smile and makes you move. Feel the music in your bones. Let it sweep you away. Dance!
3. Grab pen and paper, crayons, markers and start writing all the thing that make you matter, all the compliments you’ve received, don’t censor yourself. Write all the things that make you great, all the things you like about you, and others like about you. Let them flow. Not feeling them? They are there, dig! Don’t fight them or stop them, don’t argue with them. Let these words speak to your heart about how truly awesome you are. If you are still struggling, write or draw all the things that make you happy. Write about a time you remember being happy. Feel it in your body. Retell this moment with your five senses.
4. Exercise. Get outside in nature.
5. Distract yourself. Watch a movie or television. Read a book. Take a bath. Make a cup of tea. Eat something. Do something you enjoy. Meditation. Hold a crystal. Clean. Anything that refocuses your mind.
6. Call a friend or family member. It doesn’t have to a friend or family member that you pour your heart out to. It can a friend that you can talk to take your mind off of what you are experiencing. Maybe it’s a friend who makes you laugh or a family member who loves to tell stories of their childhood. You can also call a friend or family member who you share your feelings with.
7. Go someplace. The park, the mall, a coffee shop. Go somewhere that can take your mind off of your situation. Enjoy your surroundings, take time to really notice what’s going on around you, what do you see, hear, smell, taste or touch?
8. Call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-talk, go to Imalive or text home to 741741 (the Crisis Text Line). Call someone you can talk to. (I know I say this twice, I’ll say it again below but you are that important, I want to see you make it through this!)
9. If are reading this, and you are currently attempting to kill yourself or feel that you cannot be safe, pick up the phone and call 911!
Once you have made it through the moment, it’s time to create a plan to help you if another moment arises that you want to kill yourself arises again.
1. Know your triggers. What are the things that upset? Certain people or situations? Certain feelings? Know what starts you down the road to thinking of killing yourself, what starts the downward spiral? This might take some time, that’s okay, the more you get in touch with yourself and your feelings the more you’ll understand what triggers you.
2.Reduce your access to means. If you think about killing yourself with pills make sure the pills are not easy to access. Lock all medications in your car trunk. Give them to a family member to put away. Put guns in a safe or give them to someone to hold. Put all knives or sharp objects away, in the trunk of your car or give them to someone. Make your access to lethal means difficult to access.
3. Keep a list of what works to distract you, people you can call to talk to, places you can do that distract you and professions who can help you.
4. If you are not in therapy, start. It could just save your life.
My friend, I may not know you and that really doesn’t matter. Because I have loved people that feel that way you do.
I have helped people get through this, and I know you can too. I have also lost loved ones to suicide and witnessed the pain of loved ones who have lost someone to suicide.
And I want to remind you that you matter! That you are loved! You are worthy! And you can make it through this!
As a therapist, when I sit with you I don’t see your broken, I see your beauty and potential.
You are not your pain, trauma or story.
You are so much more! I feel your pain and more than anything I want to help you transform it into healing. I see your worth. I see you! And I can tell you, you are loved!
Dear loved ones,
Right now you could be panicked, freaking out and terrified for someone you care for deeply.
Don’t be afraid to talk about suicide with the person you are worried about. You are not going to put the thoughts into their head.
Empathize but if you don’t understand don’t say that you do. Just listen, they really just need you to listen.
If you think they are going to act on their thoughts ask them, do you have plan? What is it? When will you do this? And if at anytime it’s too much for you, call 911, take them to the emergency room, a walk in clinic or call 1-800-273-talk (they have trained staff to help you with next step).
Reduce access to lethal means.
Talk with them, if they don’t want to talk, that’s okay, be there with them. Go do something with them. Help take their mind off their problems. Go for a walk, coffee, the movies.
Call Lifeline (1-800-273-talk) for advice and guidance on how to help the person you are concerned about.
To everyone else,
Be kind. Share a smile. A hug. You never know what battle someone is fighting, their pain. Your kindness might be weekday saves them.
Check back each month as I discuss the many levels of suicide.