"Help, I Want to Die"

by Andrea M. Darcy
Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

**If it is an emergency, and you really are going to hurt yourself or someone else, get yourself to A&E or call 999. If you urgently need to talk to someone, see a list of free help lines here.

Feeling so low you’ve started having suicidal feelings? Where you are sure you can’t go on, that life is not worth living, or that you can’t escape a mess you’re in? And can’t see a way out except ending everything?

1. Separate 'you' from your thoughts and feelings.

You are not your thoughts and feelings but something separate and bigger. No matter how dark and destructive and powerful your thoughts and suicidal feelings are, it’s not who you are. And you don’t have to respond.

A strong voice in your head is just thoughts. And emotions can feel so strong it’s like they themselves will kill us, but they always pass.

TRY THIS - Talk back to your emotions and feelings. 'Hello, sadness, I see you are visiting today'. 'Hello, negative thought, I heard you, but I don’t have to respond, sorry'.

2. Contract with yourself to get through today, and just today.

Put off any decision until tomorrow. Make a promise to yourself to get through just today. Then focus on that. You just have to cope for one more day.

TRY THIS - You might find it helpful to write a contract out and sign it, or to speak out loud that you commit to making it through just today.

3. Dodge your triggers.

Do not put that sad song on, or look at that Instagram account you know makes you feel terrible. Don’t call that person that makes you feel bad. Again, promise to avoid these things for just today.

And don’t bother with drugs or alcohol, either. They only make things worse.

TRY THIS - Write down as many things you can think of that make you feel good. Then pick one and do it.

4. Pull your mind into the present moment.

Suicidal thoughts thrive on shame, which means replaying a past we can’t change. Or they survive on fear, worries about a future we can’t predict.

TRY THIS: Do sensory check ins to get present. When you find your mind going over the past or panicking about the future make yourself notice one thing for each of your five senses. A noise, a sound, a smell, a sensation, a colour. Or do mindfulness, using our mini guide to mindfulness meditation.

5. Connect with something or someone.

Yes, calling a trusted friend is ideal. But the point is to connect and it doesn’t have to be big, nor does it matter with who or what.

TRY THIS - Play with a pet, walk out the door and smile at a child in a stroller, sit in a cafe and let yourself feel like everyone else, sit in a park and connect to nature by watching trees dance in the wind, or talk to God if that works for you.

6. Get to a safe place.

We all have different versions of a safe place, but go to what is yours.

TRY THIS: If you are drinking at a bar with strangers when sucidal feelings hit, get to a friend’s house. If you are all alone cooped up at home, go to a cafe where you surrounded by warmth and noise and other people. Other safe places can be your bedroom if you are living with roommates or at home, a library, or a place of worship.

7. Distract yourself.

Forget about big goals today. Your job is to stay alive for today. And if that means distracting yourself, that’s ok.

TRY THIS: Watch a fun silly movie (nothing sad!), organise your wardrobe, play video games if that is what it takes.

7. Move.

The best distraction of all when feeling suicidal is anything that involves exercise. It’s proven by research to help moods.

TRY THIS - Do a fitness class, go walking, or draw the curtains and dance around your living room until you sweat.

8. Keep planning your next step.

Keep setting small and easy goals that you can achieve today. It’s a way to focus on the present.

TRY THIS - make a mini schedule, with an idea of what you will do for each hour, even if it’s just ‘make a sandwich and eat it’.

9. Use sensory replacement.

Can’t get your thoughts of hurting yourself to stop? Sometimes a sensory experience can move the mind away from suicidal thinking.

TRY THIS - dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) suggests, amongst other things, holding ice in a ziploc to stop distress, or dunking your face in ice water for up to 60 seconds, or doing paced deep breathing from your diaphragm for ten minutes, using a repeat count (four counts for in breath, eight for out, for example).

Or take a hot bath or shower - research from Yale university shows that showers and baths can help us fight against feelings of loneliness.

10. Unload thoughts and feelings.

If you can’t get your suicidal feelings and thoughts to stop, try offloading them in a safe way.

TRY THIS - Options here are to write them out then rip up the pages (this gives your unconscious mind a sense of safety) or to find a private space where no one will hear then speaking all your thoughts out loud as fast as you can until no more words come.

11. Perspective hop.

Suicidal feelings and thoughts are so powerful because they give us tunnel vision. Shame means we forget everything but current problems and ideas of hurting ourselves. But such a rigid perspective is a trick of the mind.

Try this - Imagine yourself waking up in another place where nobody knows you with two million in your pocket. Would you still feel suicidal? Or are those feelings just circumstantial and not you at all? Or look at your life through the eyes of someone in a worn-torn third world country. Does your work situation still seem the end of the world?

12. Seek proper support.

Yes, you need to get through today, and the above actionables are designed to help.

But suicidal thoughts don't hit at random, nor do they just 'go away'. They happen because we have negative core beliefs about our selves and doubt our inner resources. We've lost our resilience.

These negative beliefs come from unresolved childhood experiences, such as neglect, trauma, or never feeling loved and cared for. To stop the suicidal feelings we need to process the old pain and hurt. And the best way to do that is with someone who knows how to help you safely navigate the process.

Ready to want to live again? Find a therapist you like at a price you can afford and get talking.

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