journey to recovery · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Let’s Talk about Suicide (Signs and Awareness)

Suicide is a topic that is usually not talked about. People are afraid of the word suicide. No one wants to imagine someone they love thinking about or dying by suicide. This is why no one talks about it. But the thing is, we need to talk about it, because its not as uncommon as people think. One in Four (26%) young people in the UK experience suicidal thoughts.

One person dies every 40 seconds by suicide worldwide – that is an estimate of 1440 deaths by suicide a day! By 2020, the rate of death will increase to every 20 seconds. 2880 people will be dying of suicide a day… How can there be such a negative stigma surrounding suicide when it claims so many lives in simply a day? Suicide has now become one of the three leading causes of death among those aged between 15-44. More than 4,000 children under the age of 14 tried to take their own lives in the UK in the year 2007.

The point is: if you’re not experiencing suicidal thoughts, someone you know is. Many people have suicidal thoughts at some point in their life. Feeling this way means that you have more pain than you can manage at the moment, and that’s totally okay.

Remember that someone who has thoughts of suicides may not necessary attempt suicide. Suicide thoughts are different to suicide attempts but this does not mean their feelings are invalid or should be overlooked.


A person may be at high risk of attempting suicide if they:

  • threaten to hurt or kill themselves
  • talk or write about death, dying or suicide
  • actively look for ways to kill themselves, such as stockpiling tablets

A person may be at risk of attempting suicide if they:

  • complain of feelings of hopelessness
  • have episodes of sudden rage and anger
  • act recklessly and engage in risky activities with an apparent lack of concern about the consequences
  • talk about feeling trapped, such as saying they can’t see any way out of their current situation
  • Self harm – including misusing drugs or alcohol, or using more than they usually do
  • noticeably gain or lose weight due to a change in their appetite
  • become increasingly withdrawn from friends, family and society in general
  • appear anxious and agitated
  • are unable to sleep or they sleep all the time
  • have sudden mood swings – a sudden lift in mood after a period of depression could indicate they have made the decision to attempt suicide
  • talk and act in a way that suggests their life has no sense of purpose
  • lose interest in most things, including their appearance
  • put their affairs in order, such as sorting out possessions or making a will

If you notice any of these warning signs in a friend, relative or loved one, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling.

Also share your concerns with your doctor or a member of their care team, if they are being treated for a mental health condition.

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Responding to warning signs of suicide

Speak up if you are worried

Talking to a friend or family member about their suicidal thoughts and feelings can be extremely difficult. But if you’re unsure whether someone is suicidal, the best way to find out is to ask.

You might be worried that you might ‘put the idea of suicide into the person’s head’ if you ask about suicide. You can’t make a person suicidal by showing your concern. In fact, giving a suicidal person the opportunity to express his or her feelings can give relief from isolation and pent-up negative feelings, and may reduce the risk of a suicide attempt.

How to start a conversation about suicide:

  • I am worried about you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.
  • I have noticed that you have been doing (state behaviour), is everything ok?

Questions you can ask

  • What can I do to help you?
  • What supports have you called on so far?

What you can say that helps

  • I want to help you and I am here for your when you want to talk.
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autism · journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Silence to Suicide

Today I’m struggling. I know its partly down to the fact that I’ve only been on an SSRI medication for over a week. I know that the drug causes increased anxiety and a higher risk of suicide during the first few weeks as your body adjusts. I’m just very tired.

Medication isn’t a miracle drug and it definitely doesn’t cure mental illness but I really hoped by now I would be starting to feel even a little bit better and not worse. All I’ve done today is sleep and walk with my headphones blasting because I feel so low that I can’t even function.

I haven’t had suicidal thoughts in such a long time and even though I know I won’t act on them, its sad to think that if you told somebody they’d deem you crazy and unsafe and probably think you were going to take your life. Suicidal thoughts don’t necessary mean the person is going to go out and kill themselves…it just means they’re finding it hard to exist.

There is too much silence towards suicide. If someone brings up suicide, the entire room goes quiet. People turn away, pretend they didn’t hear the word. No wonder 2 out of 3 people with mental health problems struggle alone…

We shouldn’t have silence towards suicide. We should turn towards the word, listen, offer support. Appreciate every single person. Look for subtle signs of problems. Warning signs of low mood and suicidal thoughts are there, they just need to be picked up!

Here are some tips that can help you support someone whose feeling suicidal:

1. Ask questions.

If the person is comfortable, ask questions. Do so because you want to understand and provide empathy, not out of curiosity. This actually may be a nice change for the loved one. Because the topic of mental illness can make people feel uncomfortable, some might respond with silence, change the subject or offer a hurried statement. If you don’t understand something, ask. It’s better to fully understand than to make assumptions.

2. Don’t assume the person can tell you what he or she needs.

Don’t assume the person knows what they need. In times of stress, it’s common not to know. If they’re sharing with you, most likely they just need you to listen.

3. Offer practical help.

Offer/do practical things for the person. If they’re stressed, help take off their workload and do some things. Sit with them if they’re spending too much time alone.

4. Encourage self-care.

Remind the person to engage in self-care. Offer to go to the movies, meet for coffee or go on a walk with them. Friends and family of those with mental illness need to manage their own stress as well.

5. Check in.

Check in with the person. One reason that mental illness is so isolating is because people don’t talk about it. While it can be uncomfortable for both the person struggling and you, it’s uncomfortable for them not to talk about it, too. They’ll appreciate knowing that you care enough to check in.

depression

journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Suicide – Prevention Day 2016

Suicide is complex. It usually occurs gradually, progressing from suicidal thoughts, to planning, to attempting suicide and finally dying by suicide. The attitude towards suicide however always amazes me. One person dies every 40 seconds by suicide worldwide – that is an estimate of 1440 deaths by suicide a day! By 2020, the rate of death will increase to every 20 seconds. 2880 people will be dying of suicide a day… How can there be such a negative stigma surrounding suicide when it claims so many lives in simply a day? Suicide has now become one of the three leading causes of death among those aged between 15-44. More than 4,000 children under the age of 14 tried to take their own lives in the UK in the year 2007.

Although these statistics are alarming, you’re not the only one experiencing suicidal thoughts whilst you’re reading this. If you’re not experiencing suicidal thoughts, someone you know is. Many people have suicidal thoughts at some point in their life. Feeling this way means that you have more pain than you can manage at the moment, and that’s totally okay. I promise. I know the pain feels like it will never go away, but with the right support and time, the pain will soon pass.

Whether you suffer with suicidal thoughts or you know someone who is, its very important to know the warning signs and know how to help!

suicide

A person may be at risk of attempting suicide if they:

  • complain of feelings of hopelessness
  • have episodes of sudden rage and anger
  • act recklessly and engage in risky activities with an apparent lack of concern about the consequences
  • talk about feeling trapped, such as saying they can’t see any way out of their current situation
  • Self harm – including misusing drugs or alcohol, or using more than they usually do
  • noticeably gain or lose weight due to a change in their appetite
  • become increasingly withdrawn from friends, family and society in general
  • appear anxious and agitated
  • are unable to sleep or they sleep all the time
  • have sudden mood swings – a sudden lift in mood after a period of depression could indicate they have made the decision to attempt suicide
  • talk and act in a way that suggests their life has no sense of purpose
  • lose interest in most things, including their appearance
  • put their affairs in order, such as sorting out possessions or making a will

If you notice any of these warning signs in a friend, relative or loved one, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling.

Also share your concerns with your doctor or a member of their care team, if they are being treated for a mental health condition.


Offering support to someone who’s feeling suicidal

One of the best things you can do if you think someone may be feeling suicidal is to encourage them to talk about their feelings and to listen to what they say.

Talking about someone’s problems is not always easy and it may be tempting to try to provide a solution. But often the most important thing you can do to help is listen to what they have to say.

If there is an immediate danger, make sure they are not left on their own.

Do not judge

It’s also important not to make judgements about how a person is thinking and behaving. You may feel that certain aspects of their thinking and behaviour are making their problems worse. For example, they may be drinking too much alcohol.

However, pointing this out will not be particularly helpful to them. Reassurance, respect and support can help someone during these difficult periods.

Asking questions

Asking questions can be a useful way of letting a person remain in control while allowing them to talk about how they’re feeling. Try not to influence what the person says, but give them the opportunity to talk honestly and openly.

Open ended questions such as “Where did that happen?” and “How did that feel?” will encourage them to talk. It’s best to avoid statements that could possibly end the conversation, such as “I know how you feel” and “Try not to worry about it”.

Getting professional help

Although talking to someone about their feelings can help them feel safe and secure, these feelings may not last. It will probably require long-term support to help someone overcome their suicidal thoughts.

This will most likely be easier with professional help. Not only can a professional help deal with the underlying issues behind someone’s suicidal thoughts, they can also offer advice and support for yourself.

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If you are suffering with suicidal thoughts:

Remember that suicide may seem like the only option but it is not. There are many other options available, you just can’t see them at the moment. The extreme pain you are experiencing at the moment can distort thinking which makes it harder to see solutions to the problems that are upsetting you.  Reaching out to someone around could help as they may be able to see other options for you that you cannot see yourself and can help you solve your problems.

It’s important to realise that crises are usually temporary. Solutions are often found, feelings change, unexpected positive events occur.  Give yourself the time necessary for things to change and the pain to subside.

Talking to others about suicidal feelings can be extremely difficult. I get that – I’ve been there myself. You get so scared that people are going to judge you and treat you as though you are crazy. But they won’t – most will probably understand where you’re coming from.  Tell a person you trust exactly what you are saying to yourself. If you have planned a suicide, explain this to them so that they understand. Simply saying you can’t take it any more doesn’t highlight how serious things really are for you. If it’s too difficult to say out loud, try writing it down and giving it to them as a not or send an email or text whilst you are with them.

depressed-man-leaning-against-chair-350

Things that may help stop you feeling suicidal:

  • Talk with someone every day, preferably face to face. Though you feel like withdrawing, ask trusted friends and acquaintances to spend time with you. Or continue to call a crisis helpline and talk about your feelings.
  • Make a safety plan. Develop a set of steps that you can follow during a suicidal crisis. It should include contact numbers for your doctor or therapist, as well as friends and family members who will help in an emergency.
  • Make a written schedule for yourself every day and stick to it, no matter what. Keep a regular routine as much as possible, even when your feelings seem out of control.
  • Get out in the sun or into nature for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Exercise as vigorously as is safe for you . To get the most benefit, aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day. But you can start small. Three 10-minute bursts of activity can have a positive effect on mood.
  • Make time for things that bring you joy. Even if very few things bring you pleasure at the moment, force yourself to do the things you used to enjoy.
  • Remember your personal goals. You may have always wanted to travel to a particular place, read a specific book, own a pet, move to another place, learn a new hobby, volunteer, go back to school, or start a family. Write your personal goals down.

What to avoid when you are feeling suicidal:

  • Being alone. Solitude can make suicidal thoughts even worse. Visit a friend, or family member, or pick up the phone and call a crisis helpline.
  • Alcohol and drugs. Drugs and alcohol can increase depression, hamper your problem-solving ability, and can make you act impulsively.
  • Doing things that make you feel worse. Listening to sad music, looking at certain photographs, reading old letters, or visiting a loved one’s grave can all increase negative feelings.
  • Thinking about suicide and other negative thoughts. Try not to become preoccupied with suicidal thoughts as this can make them even stronger. Don’t think and rethink negative thoughts. Find a distraction. Giving yourself a break from suicidal thoughts can help, even if it’s for a short time.

hope

Still can’t cope? Try these below for help:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Suicide prevention telephone hotline funded by the U.S. government. Provides free, 24-hour assistance. 1-800-273-TALK (8255). (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline)

National Hopeline Network – Toll-free telephone number offering 24-hour suicide crisis support. 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433). (National Hopeline Network)

The Trevor Project – Crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Includes a 24/7 hotline: 1-866-488-7386.

State Prevention Programs – Browse through a database of suicide prevention programs, organized by state. (National Strategy for Suicide Prevention)

Crisis Centers in Canada – Locate suicide crisis centers in Canada by province. (Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention)

Befrienders Worldwide – International suicide prevention organization connects people to crisis hotlines in their country.

IASP – Find crisis centers and helplines around the world. (International Association for Suicide Prevention).

International Suicide Hotlines – Find a helpline in different countries around the world. (Suicide.org)

Samaritans UK – 24-hour suicide support for people in the UK (call 08457 90 90 90) and Ireland (call 1850 60 90 90). (Samaritans)

Lifeline Australia– 24-hour suicide crisis support service at 13 11 14. (Lifeline Australia)

Life will get better. I promise. I’ve been where you are.

journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Suicide is NOT a sin

Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of opinions on suicide. As a person whose been suffering with suicidal thoughts since the age of 11, I’ve had a good first hand experience of suicide. It often bothers me when people refer to suicide as a sin. I’m a religious person, but I believe God loves you no matter what you do. We are human; we feel, we make mistakes, we suffer. God doesn’t love us any less because of that.

Suicide is NOT a sin. It isn’t. It makes me so sad that so many people regard suicide as a sin so bad that it cannot be forgiven. A person who thinks, attempts or dies by suicide are hurting so badly that suicide seems the only option. How it is right to regard suicide as a sin when it is the result of a person suffering so much that suicide seems the only way? I’ve been there. At 11 years old, there was no other possible option. Suicide plagued my every thought. I was crying all the time. I despised myself completely. The world didn’t seem like a safe place to be. Attempting to take my life that day does not make me any less of a person than someone who has not thought about or attempted suicide.

In Exodus, suicide is referred to “a grave sin equivalent to murder”. I disagree. Murder is in no way the same as suicide. How can they even be compared to each other? Murder is the unlawful premeditated killing of a human being by another. Suicide is the act of intentionally ending your life. The difference with these two acts is the person behind it. Murderers are criminals, who often sadistically plan out the murder of another human being for days, weeks or months before the act. People who die by suicide are not criminals, nor are they sadistic. I would not compare myself to a murderer, nor would people who know me. Of those who die from suicide, more than 90 percent have a diagnosable mental disorder. These people are struggling. These people often have mental illnesses, or suffer extreme abuse and bullying or hardships in their life. These people struggle every single day to just live here on this earth. In no way is Suicide a sin. I’m not saying that I haven’t sinned before, because I have, but suicide is not my sin. For 7 years I have struggled with suicidal thoughts and attempts but that does not make me any less in the eyes of God.

I wanted to write this blog post because of my recent experience with religion calling suicide a sin or a mistake. I want to let you know that your mental illnesses do not make you any less than those who do not have mental illness. You will not go to hell for suffering with suicide, or mental illness. You are human, you are loved, you struggle, but you also feel joy. I believe in God and church is a huge part of my life. Many people in my church are accepting of mental illness and do not see me any less in the eyes of God, but some churches do teach that suicide is a sin.

Please, do not refer to suicide as a sin. So many people in this world are affected by suicide in some shape or form. Please educate yourself on mental illness and suicide before making a judgement.

“Mental illness is like a war. You either win or die trying.”

Hebrews-9-23-28

journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Suicide Awareness

I agree that suicide is complex. It usually occurs gradually, progressing from suicidal thoughts, to planning, to attempting suicide and finally dying by suicide. The attitude towards suicide however always amazes me. One person dies every 40 seconds by suicide worldwide – that is an estimate of 1440 deaths by suicide a day! By 2020, the rate of death will increase to every 20 seconds. 2880 people will be dying of suicide a day… How can there be such a negative stigma surrounding suicide when it claims so many lives in simply a day? Suicide has now become one of the three leading causes of death among those aged between 15-44.

 More than 4,000 children under the age of 14 tried to take their own lives in the UK in the year 2007.

During my first suicide attempt at the age of 11, I didn’t have any suicide ideation. I had been bullied for months, probably over a year, and although I felt quite down and isolated, I didn’t feel as though I wanted to die. It was only when I was on a ski holiday with my bullies that things started to turn bad. I was sat on a ski lift with two of the people who had bullied me, and of course there was no escape. The taunting, the physical abuse, the laughter…it was all too much. My suicide ideation happened in a blink of an eye. One minute I was feeling angry at these people for being so mean and the next minute I was lifting up the bar of the ski lift ready to jump. At 11 years old, that’s a pretty scary thing to experience. I can’t remember if I knew about suicide before this attempt…or whether my mind somehow knew what to do. All I knew is that I was trapped and that was the only way of escape.

After that first attempt, suicide ideation has never gone away. Thinking about suicide became a daily task some months, but other months I wouldn’t think about it at all. As I’ve gotten older, the suicidal thoughts have become more frequent. It’s difficult, because suicide should not be ignored. Suicide should not receive negative reaction. A child – or even an adult – should be able to approach someone confidently and tell them they are thinking about suicide. Why are suicidal thoughts downplayed? The time I told my doctor I was feeling suicidal was unreal…her response? “We haven’t got any appointments for another 3 weeks.” I know that you cannot see suicidal thoughts, but they are just as serious as a broken leg.

It can be very difficult and daunting to reach out and ask for help when it comes to suicide ideation…it can be even more difficult when a loved one or someone you know unexpectedly takes their own life. That is why I’d like to educate you on the signs and symptoms of suicide, so that help can be spread to all those suffering.


Warning signs:

A person may be at risk of attempting suicide if they:

  • complain of feelings of hopelessness
  • have episodes of sudden rage and anger
  • act recklessly and engage in risky activities with an apparent lack of concern about the consequences
  • talk about feeling trapped, such as saying they can’t see any way out of their current situation
  • Self harm – including misusing drugs or alcohol, or using more than they usually do
  • noticeably gain or lose weight due to a change in their appetite
  • become increasingly withdrawn from friends, family and society in general
  • appear anxious and agitated
  • are unable to sleep or they sleep all the time
  • have sudden mood swings – a sudden lift in mood after a period of depression could indicate they have made the decision to attempt suicide
  • talk and act in a way that suggests their life has no sense of purpose
  • lose interest in most things, including their appearance
  • put their affairs in order, such as sorting out possessions or making a will

If you notice any of these warning signs in a friend, relative or loved one, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling.

Also share your concerns with your doctor or a member of their care team, if they are being treated for a mental health condition.


Offering support to someone who’s feeling suicidal

One of the best things you can do if you think someone may be feeling suicidal is to encourage them to talk about their feelings and to listen to what they say.

Talking about someone’s problems is not always easy and it may be tempting to try to provide a solution. But often the most important thing you can do to help is listen to what they have to say.

If there is an immediate danger, make sure they are not left on their own.

Do not judge

It’s also important not to make judgements about how a person is thinking and behaving. You may feel that certain aspects of their thinking and behaviour are making their problems worse. For example, they may be drinking too much alcohol.

However, pointing this out will not be particularly helpful to them. Reassurance, respect and support can help someone during these difficult periods.

Asking questions

Asking questions can be a useful way of letting a person remain in control while allowing them to talk about how they’re feeling. Try not to influence what the person says, but give them the opportunity to talk honestly and openly.

Open ended questions such as “Where did that happen?” and “How did that feel?” will encourage them to talk. It’s best to avoid statements that could possibly end the conversation, such as “I know how you feel” and “Try not to worry about it”.

Getting professional help

Although talking to someone about their feelings can help them feel safe and secure, these feelings may not last. It will probably require long-term support to help someone overcome their suicidal thoughts.

This will most likely be easier with professional help. Not only can a professional help deal with the underlying issues behind someone’s suicidal thoughts, they can also offer advice and support for yourself.


Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

depressed-man-leaning-against-chair-350