Day Thirteen | Supporting people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts
As somebody who has been affected by mental health problems throughout my adult life, and experienced bereavement within my own family through suicide, suicide prevention is something that I have become passionate about. I decided to explore ways in which we can offer support to people experiencing these thoughts and research the best ways of keeping ourselves safe when, we too, are experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Along the way I have realised that mental health and the stigma attached with talking about this can be a barrier in seeking support, there is the worry that our voices will not be heard, and we will be seen to be attention seeking. As people who can be part of the support network, we need to challenge this stigma and have direct conversations about the thoughts that we may be experiencing. A suicidal thought can manifest in so many ways. It can be a thought where there is no plan in place, but this is still something that should be taken seriously or there can be a plan in place to act on these thoughts. Both scenarios must be taken seriously. Why is one seen as more serious that the other?
There are so many factors that can lead us to have suicidal thoughts including mental health issues but also practical issues that we can see no solution for because we are not talking to family or friends or even professionals.
So, what is mental health? Everyone has mental health, and it includes our psychological, emotional, and social wellbeing. It has an impact on the way we handle life’s stresses form our relationships and the choices we make in life. There are ways in which we can look after our well-being that can promote positive mental health such as practicing mindfulness, staying active and connecting with others around us.
When there are negative influences in our life poor mental health can occur. Our resilience and the way we cope with these stresses can have a negative impact on our mental health. It is important during these times that we look out for signs and symptoms of poor mental health.
Some of these signs and symptoms can include:
- Lack of interest in activities that we usually like
- Not taking pride in our appearance
- Irritability and aggression
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Sleeping more or not sleeping at all
Aside from the mental health factor we can also find ourselves having suicidal thoughts when there are practical issues. These can be anything from debt and low income, substance misuse and domestic violence, to name a few. People experiencing these problems may feel that there is nowhere that they can turn for support but gaining support for these issues can be the catalyst for recovery. It is important to understand that poor mental and suicidal ideation can be linked but can also be isolated, these do not discriminate, and we are all vulnerable to experiencing these at various points in our lives regardless of whether we are diagnosed with mental health problems or not.
What we can do to support people with suicidal thoughts is:
- Ask directly
- Have open conversations and not be judgemental to the reasons behind these thoughts
- Support the person to make positive changes
- Help the person to access the relevant support agencies
- Do not try to solve the problems for the person but hold their hand while they are trying to access support, so they feel empowered while making the changes
If you or anyone close are experiencing suicidal a list of useful numbers are listed below:
Mental health crisis line: 0800 145 6485 open 24/7 365 days a year
Samaritans: 0330 094 5717 open 24/7 365 days a year
Shout text service: 85258 can be accessed 24/7 365 days a year
Campaneros Crisis Café Birkenhead: 0151 488 8135, open 365 days a year from 1pm-10pm
Gina Doyle, Involve North West