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Suicidal Thoughts? Symptoms, Help and Prevention Tips

Silver Hill Hospital

You start off okay and then you “feel” it. The downward spiral that causes you to feel like the world is better off without you. Sometimes it feels like you can’t even breathe. Other times it feels like you are burning on the inside. As much as you try not to think it, the thoughts of suicide start to consume you.

These suicidal thoughts can become a trembling fear where you don’t know if you’re going to make it through the night. But sometimes, when you’re on your way down, a helping hand can make all the difference. It’s important to know that when having these feelings, there is help and there are simple interventions that can help you or someone you know experiencing thoughts of suicide.

Even though it can be frustrating because you feel misunderstood it’s vital to know that you are not alone. No two humans can feel the same way, but there is always someone out there that can help comprehend where you’re coming from.

1. Suicidal thoughts: What are they and why do they come?

Suicidal thoughts are not a normal reaction to stress. It is a reaction that a person may have who is in extreme distress, and can present itself as emotional or physical pain. Certain behaviors may be markers of a person contemplating suicide, and if these are detected early, it may prevent the action. Most of the time there are signs before the action occurs, but sometimes these signs can be very subtle and hard to detect.

There are also times where a person contemplating suicide may exhibits signs more visible to those around them. This includes trying to tell someone that they are having suicidal thoughts or exhibiting extremely reckless behavior. The person may act as if they don’t care whether they live or die.

That is why it is important for everyone close to a suicidal person to know the signs that may leave someone more at risk for suicide. Listed below are signs that are most commonly seen in individuals who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, as gathered from the National Institute of Mental health’s archive on symptoms, preventatives and recovery options.

  • Saying goodbye to loved ones
  • Mood swings (being happy, to sad, to angry)
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Feeling and thinking like you’re a burden
  • Giving away personal items
  • Consuming thoughts of death
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Overwhelming stress
  • Withdrawing from social activities (isolation)
  • Feeling unbearable pain
  • Feeling trapped
  • Planning your way out

An individual can display one or more of these signs, which can manifest during or after a challenging event in their life. The truth behind these signs is that we try to cope with what life gives us, but sometimes the level of distress can cloud our judgment or ability to see possible solutions. From here the individual starts to believe that there is no solution to this situation, and the spiral continues to consume them.

These signs should never be ignored. Over 40,000 people die every year of suicide, making it one of the leading causes of death overall.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported:

  • An alarming 30% increase in suicide rates across the U.S from 1999 to 2016
  • Approximately 45,000 people died of suicide in 2016
  • “Relationship problems” was one of the leading factors that contributed to suicide

2. Suicidal thoughts: Who’s at Risk?

Many say that more males fall down the spiral than females. Others say that age has a role, but ultimately it comes down to the individual, how their means of coping with a given stressor or condition, and paying attention to any possible signs they are exhibiting which may indicate they are thinking of suicide. Despite the statistics, there is no discrimination in regards to who is affected by suicide.

Trying to cope with life challenging obstacles can be further complicating for individuals who may also have any of the following risks:

  • Depression
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Substance use
  • Family History of attempted suicide
  • Prior attempts

Having one or more of these risks can be mentally and emotionally draining. Life challenging circumstances should always be assessed in order to maintain a person’s stability. Having open discussions with trusted individuals can help alleviate stress, provide support and steer a path to recovery options. It is important to be informed of what these risks are because of the link they may have with someone developing suicidal thoughts. More about potential causes and risks associated can be viewed here

3. Suicide Thoughts? Where to find Help

Know what help options are available when you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts.

Suicide Hotline Help:

If you feel like you’re caught in the spiral or if you see someone in the spiral there are many preventative measures.  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These hotlines are made to help you or someone in need. It’s free, confidential and can provide emotional support for anyone in distress.

Family and Friends:

If you prefer to talk to a friend or a loved one, try to avoid people who react negatively when bringing up the topic. These people tend to lash out in anger or call their friends or loved ones “selfish” when thinking of ending their lives. Often, this may come from a lack of understanding of suicidal thoughts. This can, in fact, make things worse for the individual in distress.

Try talking to open minded people. Know that it can be a very difficult conversation, but being educated and starting with a conversation about how someone is doing can truly soothe the soul and release inner demons.

The best part about opening up is releasing suppressed thoughts and emotions. It is liberating knowing that a weight is lifted off your shoulders and that someone is listening. You may not see it that way, but starting with a conversation is showing courage. It can often be the first step in combating suicidal thoughts and the road to returning to your best self. Being brave to speak up when you are having doubts still means that there is hope and methods for recovery.

If you are not experiencing suicidal thoughts but recognize someone who is, try to immediately reach out. Again, it can be a very difficult conversation, but necessary to show that you are there and listening.

It is important to let them know you care about what they are going through. Consistently being receptive to their thoughts and feelings is essential to making them feel like they are not alone.

You can then suggest seeking help or speaking to a professional which can help lead them to recovery. Remember, licensed professionals have experience when providing helpful preventative tips and recovery methods. 

Professional Help is There

For those who are affected by suicidal tendencies or thoughts, talking to family or friends may not be all that is needed. Even the most sincere and helpful advice from loved ones may not be enough. The affected may not even feel comfortable talking to a friend or loved one. Perhaps, there may not even be anyone willing to listen. Dial in to the hotline, or reach out to us at Silver Hill Hospital.  These people are not strangers; they are licensed professionals who are willing to talk to you.

The suicide hotline, although one of the most readily available options, is not the only option for professional help. Therapists and psychiatrists, who are trained to handle people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts, know many helpful tips and prevention methods that can lead to recovery from these thoughts and actions.

A doctor can also be less intimidating to someone. There is confidentiality in this relationship, and this is their job. Although they go home at the end of the work day, doctors have a dedicated time where their patients can come to them for help. Where family and friends are often busy with their day-to-day routines and their own jobs, these professionals are trained specifically to be there for you.

Support groups are another helpful resource for someone trying to combat suicidal thoughts. In a support group, one in surrounded by others who may be experiencing very similar thoughts, symptoms and feelings. It can be quite therapeutic to talk to others who have direct insight as to how you are feeling.

Another plus side to support groups is that group leaders will often bring in people who have recovered from situations where they have experienced suicidal thoughts. They often bring in helpful information that are living, breathing examples of how life can get better. The AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention) is a helpful tool to help someone find a suicide support group and prevention tips. The link to their website can be found here.

4.Prevention Tips

Getting the right help really has its silver lining. Talking to a professional is often helpful in better understanding what you are dealing with. You may learn new coping methods and prevention tips that you may not have tried or realize it could have a positive effect. Learning is continuous and these experiences always further self-growth. Personal growth shows inner strength and the ability to get past your inner demons.

Sometimes the path to recovery may not be a straight line. It may take multiple trials to find the best solution, but having supports through this process is imperative. 

Helpful prevention tips that work:

  • Seeking professional help
  • Taking out stressful factors in your life
  • Avoiding negative people
  • Yoga, exercise and other relaxing activities
  • Finding new hobbies or activities
  • Volunteering
  • Support Groups
  • Clinical Treatment
  • Making your living situation feel safer
  • Stay away from drugs and alcohol
  • Tell yourself not to act on negative impulses
  • Do things which you enjoy
  • Set goals and make a list of what you can work on improving
  • Spend time outside and get a little sunshine
  • Make yourself a plan for when your tendencies are at their worst
  • Spend time with people who are positive

Trying to engage in any of these activities may help you or a loved one who is at risk or having thoughts of suicide. Treatment is not the same for everyone, which is why it is so important to try and figure out what will help each individual. No one should have to go through this alone.

Despite the feelings of being helpless alone there is always a way out of the hole that suicidal thoughts dig for a person. There is always a way to make your way back up, whether it’s with the support of trained professionals, loved ones, support groups or a combination of any or all of these. Finding out whether or not working with a doctor or psychiatrist is the right option for you can start with a simple phone call. Most doctors offices have helpful staff who can assist you in beginning the treatment process.

You can start off by making an appointment or calling 1-(866)-542-4455 to learn more about Silver Hill’s treatment options and methods.