Hitting Rock Bottom

Publish Date: 09/09/2013

Suicidal Thoughts

Having suicidal thoughts can be one of the most isolating experiences someone can go through. Whether the thoughts are momentary and fleeting or intense and long-lasting, thinking about ending your own life is distressing and be incredibly difficult to open up about.

Having thoughts like this is also much more common than you might think – over 50% of the people we support through our Mental Health & Wellbeing Services have attempted to take their own life at least once and many are still struggling with suicidal thoughts.

We know that for LGB people, experience of suicidal thoughts and attempts are more common than for heterosexual people and that’s why this Suicide Awareness Day, we want to let you know that we’re here and that things can get better.

For many people, telling someone how you’re feeling can be too daunting to consider and so it stops them from seeking the help and support they need and deserve. It’s also common for people who are feeling suicidal, to isolate themselves away from others, perhaps distancing themselves from the people they feel closest to. So in fact, friends and family might have no idea what they’re going through.

There’s also no denying that there’s still some stigma attached to suicide, which is probably due to it being a subject which is still very much misunderstood. Whether you’re going through it, or supporting someone who is, it can be a frightening time, so knowing where to get the right help and thinking about a few of our guidance points can be a good start to helping you to make sense of things.

If you’re having thoughts about suicide

·        It’s important you let someone know. It doesn’t matter who it is – as long as you trust them. This can be your GP, a friend, relative, partner or mental health worker. Some people find that talking to someone who is impartial, or anonymous, say through a helpline, helps them to be more open and honest about their feelings than they would be with someone close to them.

·        There are services out there that can help, no matter how bad things seem to be. Here at The LGF, we support people everyday that are having suicidal thoughts and help them to get access to the right services.  We don’t judge them or panic about what they’re telling us – we just focus on doing whatever we can to help.

·        If you feel like you’re going to harm yourself, you need to try and get yourself to a safe space. If you live with others or have someone you trust, close by then let them know what’s going on – could they come and sit with you? If this isn’t possible, or if you feel like it’s unsafe for you to stay where you are, then the best place to head is your nearest Accident and Emergency Department. Here you’ll be able to talk to someone from their Crisis Team who can assess your needs and help you to go from there.

·        It’s thought that suicidal thoughts and feelings happen in 30 minute ‘waves’. Try to notice if you have anything that triggers yours and try to focus on knowing they will pass. Writing things down can, for some people, make it easier to share their thoughts with friends, family, partners or professionals who support them.

·        Have a list of useful helplines, people you can rely on (friends, family etc) and perhaps some instructions for what to do if things get really bad, pinned to your fridge or in your wallet. Making your own crisis card that you can grab when you start to feel distressed, might help you to reach out and get the help you need.

If you’re concerned about someone who is having thoughts about suicide

·        The key here is don’t panic. Hearing that someone you care about is feeling suicidal, can be incredibly distressing, but it’s taken them an enormous amount of courage to open up and let you know how they’re feeling. Try your best to take a deep breath, listen and let them talk.

·        Remember, not everyone who experiences suicidal thoughts will want to or attempt to harm themselves. For some, suicidal thoughts can be a way of coping with distress and difficult life experiences. Your concerns should be raised if someone talks about planning, methods or arranging things like finances or giving away pets. Trust your instincts and try not to be the only person who is supporting them – it’s too much for one person to take on.

·        Appearances can be deceiving. Suicidal thoughts and mood can fluctuate and change all of the time – their distress might not always be apparent and they might have become used to hiding how they feel. In this case it’s best to trust your gut instincts – if you feel that something isn’t right, then it’s always best to ask.

·        You alone, cannot change how someone feels and remember that you are not responsible for stopping them from harming themselves. Often, people need support from a range of different places and this is where you might be able to help. Offer to attend a GP appointment with them for moral support, or sit with them while they call a helpline can give them the encouragement and support they need to reach out to services that can provide that more intensive emotional support.

·        Make sure you get support too! You also have access to services if you need to talk. Supporting someone who is in distress can be draining and might start to take its toll on your mental health too. Try to avoid, where possible, becoming the one form of support the person is relying upon.

Useful Contacts

The Lesbian & Gay Foundation; Helpline - 0845 3 30 30 30 (10am – 10pm 365 days a year); email - helpline@lgf.org.uk - We offer a range of mental health and wellbeing support, including counselling, drop-in service and befriending. Visit www.lgf.org.ukfor more information or call us on our Helpline

Samaritans; 0845 7 90 90 90 (24 hours a day, 365 days a year; jo@samaritans.org

Papyrus (prevention of young suicide; HopeLine 0800 068 41 41 (Mon-Fri 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm; Weekends 2:00 pm to 5:00pm; pat@papyrus-uk.org; SMS: 07786 209697

Manchester Mental Health Crisis Line; 0161 922 3801 (this line is in operation from Mon-Thurs 5pm - 9am and from 5pm on a Friday until 9am Monday. The Crisis line is also open on Bank Holidays)

CALM (for men); 0800 58 58 58 (7 days a week, 5pm – midnight)