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World Suicide Prevention Day

Suicidal thoughts are common.

Suicidal thoughts are nothing to be ashamed of.
Suicidal thoughts are a sign that you have been struggling too long, taking on too much and need a new way forward.

Most people that have suicidal thoughts do not want their life to be over.
But they do want their suffering to be over.
They want a chance of a different future.
Something everyone would want in the same position.

World Suicide Prevention Day looks at raising awareness of suicide statistics, as well as working to try to prevent future deaths.
The statistic we do not know is the number of people that are battling with thoughts of suicide every day. The ones that do not try to end their lives, or whose attempts fail, but that are highly distressed and regularly at a crisis point.
I think some would be surprised by how high those numbers are. Others who know what it is like would be reassured to know they are not alone.
Because you are not alone.
Suicidal thoughts are common.
They are nothing to be ashamed of.

Some advice for suicidal thoughts

Say it out loud, share it with someone
A useful first step is to take away the burden of feeling alone. Will everyone understand? No. Will everyone know the right way to respond? No. But you will feel relief at not having to keep it secret. You might only feel able to share a bit of information at a time, gradually becoming more honest after you gauge the response. You might only feel able to share it with a stranger on a helpline or with a professional.
But say it out loud to someone. Please do not suffer in silence.

Create a soothe box
I use this so much in therapy. It is one of my favourite things to create with people.
A soothe box does what it says on the tin – it is a box full of things that will soothe you.
The fun bit is how personal it can be.

Make the box appealing to yourself. I have had clients cover it in furry fabric, stick a Lego board on the top, put stickers over it, cover it in wrapping paper, get one of their kids to decorate it, anything goes.

Add some distraction items. This could be a puzzle book, colouring book, magazine, jigsaw. Lots of clients have enjoyed adding little Lego kits, or something fun that can be created quickly.

Include sensory items too. For some people this is scent based – an aftershave or perfume, a body lotion or candle. Other people touch sense – a stress ball or blue tac or a fiddle toy.

Not everything can go in the box of course, so I also recommend putting a note in the box to remind you of these options. Creating watch lists on YouTube and playlists on Spotify can be useful. Also, reminder lists might include prompts such as – take a shower, go for a walk, make a cuppa, cuddle your pet etc.

Memory items can also be useful. It could be photographs, drawings from children, something positive from when you were younger, a trinket from a recent positive trip etc.

The final item that I recommend adding is letters. A letter to yourself that you write on a better day, to help you gain perspective on a worst day is valuable. But also letters from loved ones of things they want you to remember for when they cannot be in your company.

Try to make your box as appealing as possible, with a range of options in it. The box should be placed where you are most likely to be when you are distressed, whether this is under your bed, in your car, or someplace else. Some clients have created a second smaller version for themselves to keep in a second place – work, a partner’s house etc.

Basic Self-Help
Often the first place I start in therapy to help someone stabilise their mood is with three basics – Sleeping, Eating and Routine. Focus on these aspects if you want to look at how to help yourself if your mood is low, it is surprising how much difference it can make.

Sleep – try to introduce a routine before bed to help you wind down, have a time you will be up by each morning, try to avoid clock watching, make your bed inviting, try to reduce caffeine and screens before bed.

Eating – try to eat little and often if your appetite is poor. Even if not a proper meal, a bit of something that can give you some energy to function.

Routine – try to avoid spending time in bed except for when you are sleeping, set yourself 3 goals a day to keep you focused, this could be at the getting washed and dressed level, or it could be at the going to work and making plans with friends level.

Of course, for some people that are functioning depressives experiencing regular suicidal thoughts, the basic self-care they might need would be time off work, or a better balance in their life, to take some pressure off themselves. I increasingly see this with successful professionals, creatives, and business owners. On they outside they are functioning, but inside they are suffering. Think about what advice you would give to a friend in this situation.

Access support
Accessing support can be incredibly overwhelming, and often really scary to. Particularly for people who have tried to get help before, who have been through therapy before or accessed crisis services before. But please remember, even if it did not help before, that does not mean it will not help this time. Give it a chance.

I often say to clients – What have you got to lose? You might just achieve the future you are dreaming of.

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