The most important message I want you to remember from this article if you have been dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts is that THERE IS HOPE! I know that when you feel like ending your life, like you have nothing left to live for, it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But with the right support and treatment, everyone can get through this dark period.
If you know somebody who may be having suicidal ideations, it is important to try to understand how it feels to have no will to live anymore.
When we understand it, it is easier to help them. In this article, I will also try to demystify some of the myths, explain the signs of suicide, and give tips on how to cope with depression and suicidal thoughts.
The truth is that we don’t talk about suicide enough. It makes us uncomfortable to even think about it, but it is high time that we start. Why is it important to talk about it? Most importantly, statistical evidence show that it is a big problem. In the United States, an average of 121 people per day committed suicide in 2015.
By talking about it, people will have a better understanding of it, and those who are suffering will have feel like they are able to talk about it without people freaking out or stigmatizing them even more.
There is also a strong link between suicide and depression. Compared with other mental illnesses, depression is the one that is most often linked with suicide. It is said that those diagnosed with depression are 25 times more at risk of being suicidal than the general population.
In addition, one of the side effects associated with antidepressants is the risk of suicide, especially in those between the ages of 18-24. Because of this, some people choose more natural ways to treat their depression such as supplements and changing their diet.
How Does It Feel to Have Suicidal Thoughts?
If you have never been there, it is hard to understand how it feels to be suicidal. Even if you have, it can be hard to explain when someone asks. I will try my best to give examples of how people feel when they want to end their life.
- Feeling like nothing in life matters, including yourself.
- Feeling like you are a burden to those around you, like you are bringing them down with you and that if you were to end your life, they would be better off.
- Feeling dead inside, like you are not even in your body anymore. You look in the mirror and don’t even recognize yourself.
- Even when those around you say they are there for you, you feel alone.
- Feeling like you are drowning, and the only way to save yourself is through suicide.
- You can not rationalize or think things through, all you can do is feel and be consumed by negative emotions.
- Feeling like your subconscious is being controlled by your depression feeding you negative thoughts.
- Feeling hopeless, like there is no way out and that you are going to feel like this the rest of your life.
- Feeling like you have been locked in a room with all the bad thoughts about your life, yourself, and the world around you.
I like this following video because it explains what being suicidal is from the perspective of someone who is suicidal. It is short, but can really give you an insight on what it’s like to live a day in her shoes.
Suicide Facts and Myths
There are many myths about suicide. It is important to point them out and give people the proper information if we want to better understand suicide and help those who want to end their life.
Myth: Talking to someone about suicide will give them the idea of doing it.
Truth: If you suspect someone of having suicidal thoughts, talking about it will not give them the idea, because they have likely thought about it already. If you talk to them about it, it will only help them realize that someone understands them and is willing to be there for them. However, it is important to do this without being judgmental.
Myth: People with suicidal thoughts only want attention.
Truth: All suicidal threats need to be taken seriously! The truth is, if someone is contemplating suicide and telling you, it is a cry for help. They don’t see any other way out, but are seeking help to find it.
Myth: Suicide is a selfish or cowardly act.
Truth: When someone attempts suicide, they are not doing it to hurt others. On the contrary, they feel like them not being there anymore will make their loved ones live easier.
Myth: Only those with a mental illness will have suicidal ideations.
Truth: Although most people who will die from suicide have a mental illness, it is not always known by the person or others around them.
Myth: There are no signs prior to a suicide.
Truth: Suicide is not something that happens overnight; it is often a combination of events that lead to this. For the most part the person will have shown signs of their intentions prior to attempting suicide.
Myth: People who are suicidal want to die and there is nothing that can be done to change their minds.
Truth: When someone is suicidal they may not want to die. Unfortunately, they see it as their only way out, the only way to make the pain end. With the right support however, it is possible to make them come out of that dark place.
Myth: When someone has made one suicide attempt, they are unlikely to make another.
Truth: The opposite is true, someone who has already attempted suicide is even more at risk to eventually have a successful attempt.
Signs of Suicide
If we want to help diminish the risk of suicide, it is important to understand the warning signs to look out for.
- Feeling excessively sad or moody for a long period of time.
- Feeling like there is no hope for the future and that their life will not get better.
- Having trouble sleeping.
- Wanting to be alone all the time, not wanting to go out with friends or participate in social activities that they once enjoyed.
- Changes in their look or the way they act. They can start speaking or moving in unusual ways or change their personal appearance because they suddenly don’t care what others think.
- Harmful or dangerous behaviors such as alcohol or drug use, driving fast and carelessly, having unsafe sexual activities, and self-harm. This can indicate that they no longer value their life and don’t care if they die.
- A traumatic event or crisis such as a death of a loved one, divorce or break-up, losing a job, financial issues or being diagnosed with a major illness can put someone at risk of having suicidal thoughts.
- After an extended period of depression or sadness, the person suddenly appears to be feeling better. This is a strong indication that the decision has been made to end their life.
- Putting their affairs in order. This could include making sure they see all their family and friends, giving away personal items, and preparing their will.
- Look for signs. Suicide threats are more common than we think – 50% to 75% of those with suicidal ideations will provide someone in their life with warning signs.
Tips on How to Cope with Depression and Suicidal Thoughts
- Don’t put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation: stronger feelings of suicide can come to you when you are faced with a potential danger. For example, if you are standing on a balcony, you may be more inclined to jump. If you are around guns, there may be a higher risk of you using them when the feelings of suicide present themselves.
- Practice breathing exercises: it is important to practice these beforehand, so it comes more naturally when the situation presents itself.
- Shift your focus: there are different ways to do this, find what works best for you.
- Visualization: focus on your breathing by picturing your lungs filling up and your diaphragm going up and down. You may also want to count your breaths and visualize the numbers, or even picture yourself in a place that has a calming effect on you.
- Use your other senses: close your eyes for a bit, then reopen them and focus on objects that are around you. Describe them in detail, how they look, feel, smell, or even sound.
- Relax your muscles: focus on relaxing muscles individually. Start with your jaw, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, calves, feet, etc.
- Ask for Help: if you have thoughts of suicide, don’t be afraid to speak to someone about it. This can be a friend, family member, therapist, or even a hotline.
- Remember that recovery is possible: With the right help, you can overcome depression and suicidal feelings and learn ways to cope with stressful situations that will arise in the future.
If you find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation, try to take a step back and remove yourself from it. You can also reduce the temptation by giving someone you trust any extra medication or weapons.
There are even apps you can use to help you with this. Stop, Breath and Think is one example that will help you build skills that can help you refocus in difficult situations.
Don’t be afraid to reach out. I know it can be hard, but I can assure you that someone out there cares about you and wants to help you feel better.
In Canada and the United States, the suicide hotline number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you feel more comfortable texting, you can also text the word “START” to 741741.
Here is a list of suicide hotlines in other countries.
I know firsthand that having thoughts of suicide is not easy. Because of the stigma that surrounds suicide, you feel like if you talk about it, you may not be taken seriously or may make the other person uncomfortable. However, it is important to talk about it as it may save your life. Talking about it will also help educate the general public on suicide and diminish the stigma.
If you have any questions, comments, or would like to share something with me, you can leave me a comment below. I love seeing other people’s perspective and will do my best to answer any questions.