How can I help myself with my suicidal feelings?

1. Talking to family and friends

It is often easier for other people to see solutions, particularly if they know you well but it is important to be realistic about the kind of help they can give. They may not be able to help make you feel better right away and your feelings might be difficult for them to hear.

2. Telephone helplines and online discussion groups

If you believe that family and friends don’t understand it can be a good idea to phone a helpline e.g. Samaritans and talk to someone who has been trained to listen to people who have suicidal feelings. The person listening to you will give you the time and space to talk in confidence without judging you. They will not tell you what to do; they will help you think through what to do for yourself. Keep the number handy so that you aren’t hunting around for it in a crisis.

NHS and mental health charity online discussions groups can help you to learn practical ways of managing your crisis from others who have been through a similar experience. Be very careful of non-regulated sites.

3. Some practical self-help tips

Remove any means of killing yourself – this is important while you learn how to cope with suicidal feelings. For example, make sure that you have only small quantities of medication in the house; if you are no longer driving carefully, hand over your car keys to a friend.

4. Learn ‘distress tolerance’ skills

These can help you survive when in crisis and support your ongoing mental health. Dialectical Behavioural Therapy gives lots of suggestions for accepting distress, soothing yourself and beginning to think more clearly.

5. Give yourself a break

If your attention is focused mainly on your distress, try instead to notice the world around you. Like any new habit, it may take effort at first, especially if you feel cut off and disconnected. Set yourself goals for engaging with other people and beginning new activities.

6. Get healthier

Regular exercise like walking, running and swimming will lift your spirits and make it easier for you to sleep better. Yoga and meditation can energise you and help to reduce tension. Food also influences your mood. When you are less anxious, your appetite may return and you could begin to eat healthier foods. If you have been misusing alcohol and drugs, cutting down will make your mind clearer and better able to focus on how to help yourself.

7. Express yourself

You might like to write down your thoughts, feelings and achievements in a diary. Over time, this can give you fresh insight and increase your ability to respond to your difficulties differently. Alternatively, creating artworks based on your feelings can also be a powerful tool. Learn from others – reading about how other people have managed difficult times is usually inspiring. Self-help books can suggest ways to improve your self-esteem and take you through practical problem-solving exercises.

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