Almost everyone is at least a little afraid of this topic, as if even reading about suicide will nudge us towards doing it. A little reassurance: the next few paragraphs will help you pull the handbrake on those self-destructive thoughts. It will actually pull you back from the brink, not tempt you to edge closer.
As you probably know, mentally unwell people tend to be more likely to attempt suicide. In fact, a New Zealand study interviewed people who had survived a serious attempt at suicide and it revealed that almost all of them were struggling with some identifiable mental health problem. Is there any good news in that for us if we have mental health issues? Yes! It means that if you find your mind urging you towards taking your life, you can be absolutely certain it is your illness talking and it is NOT the result of rational, reasonable, logical thinking. Here is the fact to cling on to: mentally well people do NOT escape problems through suicide. When brains work well, they know there are always better options than suicide. Yes, awful things can happen and painful emotions can rip our hearts but, even so, a healthy mind always concludes, “This will pass”, “This is survivable”, “I cannot see a solution yet but a solution is there”.
Depression ‘dims our headlights’. Our dim lights show the problem in front of us – the pain, guilt, rejection, whatever – but they don’t give us enough light to see a solution that is any good. Imagine you are driving on a mountain road, and a land-slide blocks your way. With your dim lights you conclude, “I can either smash into the cliff on one side or plummet over the edge on the other”. Two solutions… but both of them are terrible! You need to borrow brighter lights – the lights from friends, family and professionals who will see things so differently. I guarantee that, when they hear of your pain and problems, they will NOT say, “Yes, I completely agree. The only thing to do is to end it all.” It may surprise you, even slightly annoy you, that they see exits and bypasses and solutions all over the place when all you can see is darkness, cliffs and ravines. Depression also can make us feel so weak and tired that we just want to give up; so, as well as borrowing their light, accept their care, love and support as well: their strength can become your strength. And, most of all, borrow their hope! Depression may have (temporarily) stolen your bright future… ask them to help you build a new one.
The takeaways from this:
- Suicide is never a good solution to any problem.
- When suicidal thoughts trouble you, tell yourself (over and over if necessary) that this thinking is a symptom of mental unwellness. As your health returns, the thoughts will ease.
- Even though you might fear embarrassment, get support from someone you trust. It will help you be steadier and feel connected, and you can borrow their cooler, clearer perspective on your problems.
- Definitely share your suicidal inclinations with your mental health professional or doctor. Extra support is usually available for people with acute needs, and medication may help.
- Always take your prescribed medication. Coming off anti-psychotic medication is especially dangerous as distressing and confusing symptoms can come flooding back.
- Have an action plan ready-to-roll. If you ever feel at real risk, you will have at hand the numbers to call a Crisis Team or Helpline. Your plan might also include care for your kids if you need a break.
Are you really troubled right now? Call a help line (below) straight away. You do not need to die. There are better solutions. There is hope.
WHERE TO GET HELP:
1737, Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
Samaritans – 0800 726 666
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
What’s Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds). Phone counselling is available Monday to Friday, midday–11pm and weekends, 3pm–11pm. Online chat is available 7pm–10pm daily.
Kidsline – 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline) for young people up to 18 years of age. Open 24/7.
thelowdown.co.nz – or email firstname.lastname@example.org or free text 5626
Anxiety New Zealand – 0800 ANXIETY (0800 269 4389)
Supporting Families in Mental Illness – 0800 732 825.
If it is an emergency, or you, or someone you know, is at risk, call 111.