Suicidal thoughts

" If you think you can’t keep yourself safe just now, then you go to any hospital Accident and Emergency or dial 999 and ask for an ambulance "

When the word suicide is mentioned, it can often mean a lot of judgement and stigma from people, including our family, friends, colleagues, the media and our partners.  

Indeed, our own self-stigma is a common occurrence of this subject.  The mention of the word can create a mirage of thoughts and feelings, including sadness, anger, fear, worry and much more.  However, suicidal thoughts are more common than you might think - SAMH (Scotland’s Mental Health Charity) reports that as many as 1 in 20 people are thinking about suicide at any one time, and we know this number is greater in gay and bisexual men and men who have sex with men including trans men 

I think about suicide a lot, but I don’t want to die. 

Just because you have suicidal thoughts, doesn’t always mean you want to die.  For many, it is about the pain of feeling overwhelmed by their experiences or situationIt can also occur when finding it difficult to see a way through the pain they have or the circumstances they are living with.  Often people might feel that it is more about not wanting to live rather than to die. 

Why do I feel like this?  

Feeling like you don’t want to be here can happen for lots of reasons. It could be because you might have:- 

  • lost someone close to you recently;  
  • become scared of what might happen in the future
  • worries about coming out concerning your sexuality or gender
  • lost your job
  • mental and physical health issues make your life painful to live
  • issues concerning alcohol and drugs
  • experienced money worries and might be in debt 
  • have a relationship breakdown 
  • experienced trauma or abuse recently or in your past 

Of course, there are many more reasons than this, and in some cases, you might not even know why. It is important to recognise and accept that we are not okay and seek help.  

What can I do if I feel like this and keep having thoughts? 

Having thoughts about not wanting to live and thinking about suicide is a sign that you need help to deal with your feelings and circumstances.   Often speaking to a close friend or family might sound difficult, but it can help you share how you feel, and by talking to someone it can often make things feel just a little less difficult or painful.  In other situations, you might be alone and want to reach out when you have thoughts and feelings running through your head. In cases like this, you can speak with several organisations that are there to help.  You can also talk to your GP or another health professional who will be able to offer you support.   

Many people will go through life where these thoughts reoccur on a regular basis or intermittently. Often people use a tool called a safety plan; this is where you have something to hand that helps you get through the immediacy of the situation and gives you advice on what to do.  You can find out more about this from here. 

I am really distressed, and I am at risk of harm. 

If you are really distressed and you think you might be at risk of harm or have done something that has caused harm, then this is an emergency, and you should access help immediately. You can do this by dialling 999, accessing the hospital emergency department or speaking with your GP.    The Samaritans are available by calling 116 123 and are open 24 hours a day.   

How do I help someone who tells me about having thoughts of suicide?  

If you are worried about someone you know or care about is thinking of suicide, then there are things you can do to help.  First and perhaps the most important thing you can do is be there for them to talk to, don’t feel you have to have answers, just being there will often make a difference.  SAMH has produced a helpful resource here, which will help you understand how you can help.  Remember to look after yourself as well, and no matter what happens showing you care will always be helpful to the person concerned.  

Where do I go for more help? 

  • Samaritans – 24/7 listening and emotional support service. You can call free on 116123 
  • Breathing Space – a free, confidential service for people living in Scotland who are experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety. You can call free on 0800 838587 (Mon-Thurs 6pm-2am and from Friday 6pm – Monday 6am. 
  • Scottish Association for Mental Health(SAMH)  Scotland’s leading mental health charity. There is lots of information and support available through their website.