I'm about to share something heavy, but it's crucial. I've dealt with suicidal thoughts in my lifetime, and a suicide helpline saved my life. It impacted me so much I ended up volunteering at a Suicide Prevention Line for several years. On Friday January 12 2024 our family lost a member to suicide. It's never easy to talk about, but I think it's important to shed light on this topic for everyone who has faced it or knows someone who has.
Suicide is a complex and devastating issue that affects individuals, families, and communities worldwide. It is a leading cause of death globally, with profound implications for mental health and public well-being.
The reality is, many of us may encounter thoughts of self-harm or suicide at some point in our lives. With a mind buzzing with over 60,000 thoughts each day, it's understandable that a significant portion of them can be negative and potentially harmful. The thoughts we choose to focus on most can greatly influence our emotions and behaviors.
Experiencing suicidal thoughts or ideation doesn't require a mental illness, and having a mental illness doesn't guarantee experiencing such thoughts. Our mental well-being is influenced by various factors like our environment, genetics, biochemical imbalances, childhood experiences, current state of mind, and more. Often, a combination of challenges can overwhelm our ability to cope in a healthy way, leading us to default to coping strategies, be they positive or negative. For some, this might involve thoughts of self-harm or suicide. If you find yourself in that situation, seeking support is crucial.
We are not wired to kill ourselves, getting to a point of ideation can feel irreversible, but I know first hand by my own experience and by talking to hundreds of people on the ledge that it is reversible and that we CAN come out on the other side when we reach out for help! Recovery, especially if suicidal thoughts have been persistent, involves gradually building layers of resilience over time to develop alternative coping strategies. This is KEY! To build an arsenal of coping mechanisms.
Focusing on and practicing positive self-care strategies can make them more accessible during difficult times. When suicidal thoughts arise, there are ways to lessen their impact and prevent them from escalating. While this isn't an exhaustive list, here are some suggestions that clients have found helpful:
Talk to someone:
Reach out to someone you trust, be it a friend, family member, neighbor, colleague, or professional.
Consider calling a helpline like Samaritans (116 123), NHS 111, or seeing a therapist.
Expressing your feelings may be challenging, but starting the conversation is a crucial step.
Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all approach, but opening up about your struggles is an important part of the healing process.
Preventing suicide requires a comprehensive and collaborative effort from individuals, and communities. By understanding the risk factors, recognizing warning signs, and implementing effective prevention strategies, we can work towards creating a society that prioritizes mental health and provides support for those in need. It is essential to break the silence surrounding suicide, promote empathy, and foster a culture of understanding to save lives and build a healthier future for all.
This blog post is dedicated to my cousin Maxito! Rest in peace primo.