Explains what suicidal feelings are, and what you can do if you feel suicidal. Also covers the causes, treatments and support options for suicidal feelings.
How can I cope in the future?
If you have experienced suicidal feelings in the past, you may be worried that these feelings might return.
Or if you are feeling low now, you might worry that these feelings will get worse.
But there are steps you can take to look after and improve your general wellbeing when you're feeling low. You can also do things to prepare in case you feel suicidal again:
A safety plan is a plan to support you at times when you may be thinking about suicide.
This plan is personal to you, and may include:
- how to recognise your warning signs
- details of your own coping strategies, such as what has helped you cope in the past and what you can do to help yourself now
- the names and contact details of anyone you know who may be able to help
- the names and contact details of professionals or agencies you can contact if you are crisis
- any helplines and listening services who can help you in a crisis
- steps you can take to make your immediate environment safe
- details of a safe place you can go, if you need to.
Try to make a plan when you can think clearly about what you would find helpful. You might want to complete the plan with someone you trust, such as a friend or therapist. You could also give them a copy of the plan to keep.
I tried to plan for feeling really bad, knowing that I could become incapable of controlling my feelings for a while. It hurts to not trust yourself but it does pass and I am so glad to be here still.
You can find templates for making a safety plan online. For example, this Students Against Depression safety plan template.
Is a safety plan the same as a crisis plan?
A safety plan focuses on what you can do now to keep yourself safe.
A crisis plan also focuses on what has helped to keep you safe in the past, but is more detailed. It covers what treatment you would like to receive if necessary, and whether you've made an advance statement or decision.
Take each day at a time
There might be good days and bad days. Try to focus on each day at a time and set yourself small, achievable goals.
Develop coping strategies that work for you
Self-help resources can help you work through difficult feelings and learn coping skills. The NHS has information about self-help for mental health problems.
Allow yourself to feel your feelings
Suppressing your feelings when they happen can cause them to build up over time and make them even harder to cope with.
Think about what caused you to feel suicidal and share this with those supporting you.
Make a happy box
Fill a box with memories and items that can provide comfort and help lift your mood when you feel down.
The box can contain anything that is meaningful and helpful to you. For example:
- a favourite book
- positive quotes
- notes to yourself
- a cuddly toy
- a perfume or smell that's important to you.
Learn your triggers
Keeping a diary can help you find patterns in your mood over time. It can also help you think about what might be causing you to feel suicidal.
You can track your feelings by using an online mood diary. See our page of useful contacts for links to some mood diaries you could try.
Don't blame yourself
If you have tried to take your own life, or thought about taking your life, you may feel guilty afterwards. This can especially happen if the people close to you feel worried about you.
Try to accept that it was just how you were feeling at the time, and focus your energy now on looking after yourself.
Write a letter to yourself
Try to include happy memories and mention people who care about you. This may be helpful to read when you are experiencing suicidal feelings to remind yourself that things can get better.
Make plans to look forward to
Planning time to spend with others or doing things you enjoy can help you feel more positive about the future. It doesn't have to be something big like a holiday. You could book tickets to a music or art event, or try joining a club.
Build your self-esteem
See our pages on self-esteem for tips to help improve how you feel about yourself.
Write down your achievements and the things you like about yourself, however small. If someone compliments you, make a note of it.
Do things just for yourself
Try to regularly make time for things you like to do. You could spend half an hour reading a book, or doing a hobby you enjoy. Or you could take the chance to try out something new.
See our page on treatment and support for ways to find help and support for suicidal feelings. These support options may help if you don't currently receive any support and want to start. But they also help if the support you currently receive doesn't feel right for you and you want to try something different.
Let others know how you're feeling
Tell people what you find helpful and let them know when you're finding things difficult. It's okay to ask others to be with you if you need them.
Giving your time to help others can be rewarding. It can build your confidence and make you feel appreciated and needed by others.
Try peer support
You may find it helpful to talk to other people who have experienced suicidal feelings. Peer support brings together people with similar experiences, so they can share those experiences and tips to help each other cope.
Contact your local Mind to find what peer support services are available locally.
You can also access peer support online, for example through Mind's supportive online community, Side by Side.
Sharing that I felt suicidal with close friends, although scary as I worried they'd be angry, has helped me in subsequent black times. They said they'd hate to lose me having not been given the chance to help.
Try to get good sleep
Learn to relax before bed, making sure your bedroom is a calm place clear of distractions. If you are having trouble sleeping, see our pages on sleep problems for tips to help you cope.
Try to avoid recreational drugs and alcohol
You might find that you want to use recreational drugs or alcohol to cope with difficult feelings about yourself.
But in the long run they can make you feel worse and can prevent you from dealing with any underlying problems.
See our pages on recreational drugs and alcohol for more information about how these can affect your mental health.
Think about your diet
Eating regularly and keeping your blood sugar stable can make a difference to your mood and energy levels. See our pages on food and mood for more tips.
Try to do some physical activity
Many people find exercise a challenge but activities like yoga, swimming or walking can be a big boost to your mood.
If you don't feel confident doing exercise, you could start off with smaller activities and build from there. For example, the NHS has a list of gentle chair-based exercises to try in your own home, which may be a good starting point.
See our pages on physical activity and your mental health for more information.
This information was published in April 2020. We will revise it in 2023.
References and bibliography available on request.
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