Are you finding it hard to get up in the morning, having thoughts of self-harm, or wondering what’s the point of living?
If you’re suicidal, you’re not alone. Millions of adults seriously consider suicide every year. During the pandemic, the number of people thinking of taking their own lives more than doubled.
When you’re suicidal, death seems like the only way out. But the truth is, most suicidal ideation is short-term; 54 percent of people who die by suicide don’t have a mental health condition, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. If you do have a mental illness, it can be treated.
That’s why it’s so important to reach out for help when suicidal thoughts take hold. The right help can put you on the path to recovery from suicidal ideation. But where do you turn?
What to Do If You’re Suicidal
It’s hard to think clearly when you’re suicidal. To help, we’ve put together simple action steps you can take to overcome suicidal thoughts.
● Call a helpline. Contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat with a counselor online.
● If you feel like you’re in immediate danger, call 911 or go to a mental health crisis center.
● Reach out to your support system. Hopelessness thrives in darkness. Tell a trusted loved one that you’re thinking of hurting yourself and ask them to help keep you safe.
● Distract yourself. Do something that brings you comfort or joy and keeps your mind off of harmful thoughts. Think of all the reasons you have to live. Avoid being alone.
● Don’t use drugs or alcohol. Substance use alters your thinking and makes you more impulsive.
● Get mental health treatment. Most health insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, include mental health coverage. If yours doesn’t or you’re uninsured, look for sliding scale services through low-cost clinics and private therapists.
As you can see, the most important thing to do when you’re feeling suicidal is to tell someone. Depression and mental illness trick you into thinking you’re all alone and no one cares. However, it’s important to remember the suicidal mind is a sick mind, and the things your brain is telling you aren’t true. To ask for help is to take the first step on the path toward recovery.
Moving Past Suicidal Ideation
Once you’re stabilized, it’s time to think about long-term strategies to prevent future mental health crises. While not all mental health conditions are preventable, the right management strategies can help you live a full and happy life.
● Take care of your body. A healthy body provides the foundation for a healthy mind. Eat a balanced diet, stay hydrated, adhere to a sleep schedule, don’t misuse drugs or alcohol, and remember to stay active.
● Learn to meditate. Meditation teaches you to be aware of your thoughts and live in the present instead of letting rumination and stress take hold.
● Surround yourself with good people. A strong, supportive network of family and friends is good for mental health. Avoid toxic relationships and instead, cultivate connections with people you can rely on.
● Set goals for yourself. Whether it’s developing healthier habits or achieving success at work or school, goals offer something to focus on other than your inner thoughts.
● Recognize the early warning signs of a mental health crisis. If you notice yourself withdrawing, growing agitated, or struggling to manage everyday tasks, schedule a checkup with your mental health provider.
When it comes to suicide, silence hurts everyone. Whether you’re experiencing early symptoms of mental illness or are in the throes of a crisis, don’t wait. Tell someone you trust about how you’re feeling. When you reach out for help, you give yourself a chance at recovery and a brighter, happier future.
This post was contributed by Melissa Howard, Head of Prevention Outreach at StopSuicide.info