It is not my intention to minimize the matter of suicide as it is a very complex and personal challenge for a vast number of individuals that make up our society. Thousands of people in each country take their own lives every year. This doesn’t take into account the number of attempted suicides, or those that think about it constantly. Suicide is a relentless seductress and should be viewed that way. However, we have the power within us to halt this determined entity and by joining with positive forces (friends, family, health professionals) the impact is minimised significantly to a point where she may even be stopped dead in her tracks. Now wouldn’t that be something.
The reality is that suicidal thoughts are a very common occurrence. There are so many incidents and accidents that make us feel as though someone has stabbed us in the heart and the pain is unbearable.
Into the mix of what emotions or triggers can cause suicidal thoughts comes helplessness, hopelessness, anxiety, depression, loss of inspiration, feelings of unworthiness, fear, loss/lack of faith, death of a loved one, bullying, isolation, illness, guilt, homelessness, abuse, substance abuse, addictions, alienation, powerlessness, worthlessness, captivity and oppression.
No doubt we can all identify with the emotions and remember a time in our lives where we have fought to stay grounded and continue with life. That’s the important fact in all of this… we have survived a terrible time in our lives. We did it and continue to be warriors against the forces that would take our life. Positive people can have times of feeling beaten by life yet make the choice to continue because somehow they know instinctively that the situation will change. Life and the moment will change. We still continue to breathe, walk, talk, feel the sun, wind and rain on our skin. Our feelings of pain and helplessness will pass. The obvious answer – reach out when the first signs of ‘suicidal thoughts’ start to occur. But when we are in ‘that space’ it often can be a tall order to seek support or guidance.
For many it is the last taboo, and makes many a person uncomfortable as it goes against our greatest instinct…that of survival.
“Failure is an event, never a person.” – Zig Ziglar
So, what can we learn and do to help minimise this creeping negative influence from taking a foothold in our lives? What are some of the tips from fellow survivors and current thoughts that are worthy of consideration?
20 Tips for Positive People Battling Suicidal Tendencies
1. Step on Suicide’s toes.
By realising that there is a vast corridor between thought and action you can gain the upper hand by stepping on suicide’s toes. Put the brakes on and give yourself breathing space of say at least 24 hours, ideally a week and then re-evaluate.
2. Hope is your champion – let her do battle for you.
Hope will help you realise that there is light in the darkness and she will shield you if you give her permission to do so. Hope will be there day in and day out. She realises that tomorrow is another day and a chance to defeat suicide and her accomplice depression. Hope and her allies will rally the army if you give them a chance ie. friends, family, counsellors, advisors, physicians, whoever you think could help you and Hope to gain the upper hand.
3. Defend yourself at your home and be safe.
Self harm in all its forms will come to mind when you are contemplating suicide. Make your home safe by removing items such as pills/medication, drugs, toxic substances, alcohol, knives, guns, razors – anything that would be deemed as a risk to your safety. If you feel that you can’t trust yourself with tablets, lock them in a safe place and give the key (or the tablets) to a trusted friend and ally. If you are uncertain about your safety then retreat to a friend’s place or seek refuge. Reach out and protect yourself against suicidal tendencies.
4. Just a little drink…to settle the nerves.
If you feel tempted to turn to alcohol and drugs to ‘lighten the load’ then you will find that it does the exact opposite. Alcohol exacerbates depression and drugs can make any risk behaviours/thoughts even more pronounced and may lead you into a much darker place. If you are on medication then continue to use it in accordance with your Doctor’s directions. It may also be a good time to contact your Doctor to see what modifications can be made to your scripts and health care plan. Again, use your allies to fight against depression and suicidal thoughts/actions.
5. Share the load.
Devise an action plan that you can bring into play when you are having suicidal thoughts, feelings, and finding it difficult to cope. Who would you trust to be on your list of contacts….friend(s), family, therapist, doctor, coach, clergy, a mental health practitioner, telephone support line. You are deserving of help and support. If a friend reached out to you how would you respond? Of course you would do all you could, so why deny yourself the same? People need people. If it all seems overwhelming a strategy may be to write down your thoughts and the causes of your feelings. As part of an action plan you may think about sharing the details with someone you trust while you are feeling vulnerable. In this way someone knows what exactly is happening to you from a psychological and emotional point.
6. Problems are challenges and not a life sentence.
In every stage of our development there will be challenges that surface. Step back and take the ‘personal’ out of it. Crises come along to be addressed through creative thinking and a plan of action. If you take yourself out of the equation and see it as ‘out there’ rather than internalising it you have a better chance of looking at it more clearly. In other words, take yourself out of the well and place the negative thoughts in the well instead. Imagine looking into the well and working on it constructively rather than carrying it around like a beast of burden.
7. No one seems to understand.
Always question this kind of thinking. Never, never, ever give up on finding your voice and seeking out the help you deserve. If you find that the person you have chosen to talk to doesn’t seem to understand, then turn to someone else. There are many experienced members in the community such as specially trained staff in various organisations or those at a crisis helpline such as Lifeline. So many agencies are there to offer you support if you only let them in.
“Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will have crossed the mountain.” – Author Unknown
8. Routine – it helps.
Try and keep to a daily routine as much as you can without it becoming boring. By writing up a schedule of activities it helps you to remain focused in a time of chaotic thinking or when experiencing feelings of being out of control.
9. Make time to smell the roses and enjoy the sun.
Make it your mission to get outdoors and enjoy nature’s splendour for at least 30 minutes a day. Every season has its beauty if you just take the time to look. Use your senses – feel the sun on your face, wind in your hair, the taste of the salty sea air on your tongue. Smell the rain as it mixes with the scent of the pines. The flora and fauna are all there on view and it’s free!
10. Let’s get physical.
Take time to exercise every day. Pick up the pace and get the heart pumping and get your body moving. By exercising as little as 30 minutes per day you are releasing the good mood endorphins into your blood stream. As an added bonus, your dog will shower you with love and be a very enthusiastic companion.
11. Alone again, naturally.
The challenge when you’re feeling depressed and thinking about suicide is to break out of your solitude. By allowing your mind to play and stew on issues it reinforces negative thoughts. Get out of the house! Go and visit friends, see a good (happy) movie, visit your local botanic gardens, take off to the local shopping mall; whatever it takes to change the current negatively charged atmosphere.
12. Don’t reinforce the pain.
Avoid doing things that will only make you feel worse. For example, sad music, looking at photos of passed loved ones, ex partners, or visiting the cemetery. As mentioned before, trying to drown your sorrow with alcohol only heightens depression.
13. Find your bliss.
It really is important to indulge in the activities that you enjoy. Watch a movie that made you happy previously or seek out a new one, read a book that inspired you or look for a new addition to your library. Get out with a friend and enjoy a meal at your favourite café. If you are into crafts or the arts ensure you continue to cultivate your passion or explore the potential of a new interest.
14. It’s elementary Watson.
Take on a new case – the new case is…you. Time to identify the triggers and situations that reinforce your sense of negativity. It’s important to ask yourself the who, what, where, when, why, how questions as an investigator and researcher into your own wellbeing. Write down your findings and what solutions you can bring into play. The game is afoot! Gradually address your conclusions and implement strategies to make your feel whole again.
15. And you think you’ve got problems.
Think about doing some volunteer activities, or work that gives you a sense of purpose and meaning. It can be sobering to see how others continue to challenge the perception of limitations. Just one word of caution and that is to not overdo the volunteering as this is about you looking after yourself and not becoming worn out by being supportive to others. If you take care of yourself then you can take care of others.
“When it’s darkest, we can see the stars.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
16. Stress Less.
There are two types of stress, one that can motivate and the other one that can immobilize. By finding healthy ways to keep your stress levels under control, using strategies such as exercising, relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, meditation, questioning and challenging self defeating thoughts the road will be that much easier.
17. I have a dream.
Everyone should have a ‘bucket list’ of things they would like to do and achieve in their life. But, don’t wait until you reach old age or illness occurs to take the opportunity to live your dreams. Set up a list of personal goals that you would like to complete. Some may be short term goals and others more long term. If you have a partner then both of you should write your own personal list and share your thoughts with the other. In this manner you can work together to bring out the best in each other so that dreams become reality.
18. Silence and Stigma.
Survivors of suicide highlight the need for the silence and stigma to end. One woman noted that this secrecy “just reinforces the idea that attempting suicide was weird, isolating and shameful. We need to have a voice.”
In the U.S. suicide attempt survivors are being recognised and utilized as a valuable resource in the battle to help others who are struggling with suicidal tendencies. Another woman offers this advice…”To anyone feeling overwhelmed by life, I’d say write about it, draw about it, scream about it. If people don’t listen, tell someone else.”
19. One day at a time.
So often people lead quiet lives of desperation and live in isolation. If there are no support services in your area then a plan of action may be to think about reaching out into the community to do something about this mental health issue in your community. One mother and daughter team began a depression support team once they felt they had recovered sufficiently. At the first meeting there were 45 people. “What I say to anybody feeling overwhelmed is, hang on and keep breathing, take one day at a time and get yourself some good support.”
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important.” – Ambrose Hollingworth Redmoon
20. Maintain your sense of identity and spiritual connections.
It is vital that you recognise and accept that you have the right to be healthy, happy and to lead a rewarding life. Today people are always skimming the surface of life rather than moving to the depth of a deeper, hidden self. By practicing mindfulness and connecting with the spiritual self we can fill the
‘spiritual gap.’ Our mission is to find the sacred in ourselves and in all living things. By introducing mindfulness, we practice moment to moment awareness, being non judgemental, and learn acceptance. The goal is to see your thoughts as mental (cognitive) events rather than facts. So much is available now on mindfulness and practices to make us more aware of the authentic self.
“Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees
and the stars: you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you no doubt the universe
is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive
Him to be; and whatever your labours and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with yourself.
With all its shams, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still
a beautiful world.”
– Max Ehrmann (Desiderata)