For the majority of people thinking about suicide, it is a very confusing, lonely and exhausting time. The chances are, there is a part of you that really wants to live, it’s just you don’t know how to do so with the problems you face. You are not alone in feeling overwhelmed or that suicide offers the only viable solution. However, it’s really important to remember that A. there is help out there and B. many times this feeling is transient and if you can keep safe until these feelings of being overwhelmed pass, they will almost certainly be relieved. If you are unable to keep yourself safe please follow the guidance in our I’m thinking about suicide section.
Suicidal thoughts and feelings are incredibly individual and complex. It is never black and white and rarely is there a straightforward single reason. There are some all too common themes that are often expressed by individuals who have been, or are considering suicide; inability to problem solve, lack of self-worth and/or purpose, harmful relationships, feeling stuck/trapped, significant debt and being overwhelmed.
It’s important to differentiate between suicidal thoughts/feelings and a suicide plan. Many people experience suicidal thoughts, often they are very brief and pass. Finding someone they can talk to, a friend or family member, a professional or a charity such as PAPYRUS’ HOPELINE or The Samaritans can be key in keeping them safe.
A little bit of biology for you: when people feel overwhelmed, the emotions they feel are processed in a part of the brain that can respond appropriately. That response includes releasing a cocktail of hormones that take the body into battle mode – part of that response is to shut down higher order thinking, like logic, curiosity etc. In fact, many systems go off line while others go on high alert. It’s ironic that feeling overwhelmed is likely to cause an internal chemical reaction that literally stops us from thinking clearly and consequently keeps us in an overwhelmed and panicked state, but it does. A person may be literally unable to think clearly or make a simple decision like if they want tea or coffee let alone choose what the best option may be to stop feeling overwhelmed.
Academics now know that exposure to suicide at any time in life, can increase the chances of an individual considering suicide. If you have been exposed to suicide, especially if no one ever sat down with you and helped you work through your feelings, then it is possible that it becomes part of your frame of reference and whether its conscious or subconscious, suicide can become a potential option for you. What is vital is that you remember there are so many other options that can help you cope with your situation.
Every single one of us will experience times that test us, and everybody experiences times where we just want the day to be over. Whilst your experiences are unique to you, the themes (fear, pain, embarrassment, shame, sadness etc) are felt by people all over the world. Sadly, for some, their feelings cannot be reconciled and/or overcome, they just can’t imagine how to carry on living and they reluctantly choose to die by suicide. That’s why at OLLIE, in addition to creating suicide aware communities, we are teaching children and adults how to plan to achieve their goals and overcome their obstacles. Our aim is for people to learn how to problem solve so that suicide never feels like a viable option.
If someone is struggling with suicidal ideation (thinking) they will have so many emotions and concerns running through their mind. We have put together a list of FAQs that people working with those experiencing suicidal thoughts frequently get asked.