Suicide Prevention: Coping with Suicidal Ideation
According to the data published by Lancet in 2016, there have been about 2.3 lakh deaths due to suicide every year from 1990-2016 in India (Armstrong &Vijayakumar, 2018). Suicide is a consequence of complex interaction of several biological, psychological and environmental factors. Research studies on suicides in India have identified a complex array of psychosocial factors associated with suicides, namely poverty, unemployment, violence, discrimination, relationship conflicts, financial crisis, unfulfilled romantic ideals, physical illness, substance abuse and mental illness (as cited in Verrochio et al, 2016). Suicidal thoughts are often triggered by extreme emotional distress. You may go through intense emotions of loneliness, guilt, humiliation, fear, angst and dread (Verrochio et al, 2016).You may also feel numb where you might not experience any emotion or sensation. As it can get immensely difficult to cope with these feelings, it is important to look at coping strategies and explore support systems one can rely upon in difficult moments.
1.Talk to someone:Call a friend, family member, colleague, or any one you trust. If you can’t think of someone, call a suicide prevention helpline. You don’t need to tell them the entire situation if you are uncomfortable. You may just speak about anything that makes you feel comfortable.
2.Take a step towards ensuring your safety: Discard or keep away objects like sharp knives, blades, medication, rope, or poison for your safety. Be around people who are likely to support you in times of distress.
3.Strategies for emotional regulation: While going through suicidal thoughts, you are likely to feel immensely overwhelmed or numb. These self- help strategies are likely to bring your emotions to an optimum level:
– Hold an ice cube in your hand and notice how cold it feels till it melts completely
– Ground your senses to the present. Notice what objects you can see around you, the sounds you can hear, the sensations you feel on your skin.
– Take long deep breaths.
4.Make a coping card: A coping card might help direct your actions when you struggle with feelings of hopelessness. It can contain any activity that brings you peace of mind. It can have grounding techniques such as taking deep breaths, meditating, listening to soothing music or any activity that you enjoy. It might also contain suggestions or directions that if followed can help in calming you such as taking a walk, a shower etc.
5.Be kind to yourself:Suicidal thoughts are likely to be accompanied by a lot of guilt and self- blame. Being compassionate towards yourself in such times is likely to lessen the risk of suicide (Kelliher et al, 2018). Make attempts to reframe your inner critical voice. You may say, “I understand you are feeling distressed, I want you to feel better. Can you lie down and try to relax for a while?’. If it is difficult to talk to yourself, engage in physical gestures of warmth like stroking your arm, hugging a pillow.
6.Consult a therapist: Seeking therapy regularly for emotional distress is likely to help in managing overwhelming emotions. It can also be a space where you gain skills to cope with challenges in your day-to-day life which trigger thoughts of suicide. Therapy can be sought both face- to- face or online.
How can iCALL help?
It can often be difficult to open up about thoughts of suicide because of the fear of being judged or isolated. At iCALL, we provide a supportive and non – judgemental space for anyone who is feeling vulnerable and suicidal. Our team of professional counsellors are trained not just in helping with emotional stabilisation during crisis, but also in providing long term therapy for distress you may be going through for a prolonged period of time. Counsellors at iCALL are equipped to view and address concerns from the psychosocial lens, which is aimed at understanding the different levels at which an individual may require help and support. Our services are available on telephone, e-mail and chat from Monday – Saturday 8am-10pm, IST.
Take the first step towards your safety and self-care.
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( Armstrong, G., & Vijayakumar, L. (2018). Suicide in India: a complex public health tragedy in need of a plan. The Lancet Public Health, 3(10), e459-e460.
Gajalakshmi, V., & Peto, R. (2007). Suicide rates in rural Tamil Nadu, South India: verbal autopsy of 39 000 deaths in 1997–98. International journal of epidemiology, 36(1), 203-207.
Kelliher Rabon, J., Sirois, F. M., & Hirsch, J. K. (2018). Self-compassion and suicidal behavior in college students: Serial indirect effects via depression and wellness behaviors. Journal of American college health, 66(2), 114-122.
March, C. (2016). How to cope with suicidal feelings [Ebook] (1st ed.). London: Mind 2016. Retrieved from https://www.mind.org.uk/media/4657603/how-to-cope-with-suicidal-feelings_2016.pdf
Radhakrishnan, R., & Andrade, C. (2012). Suicide: an Indian perspective. Indian journal of psychiatry, 54(4), 304.
Verrocchio, M. C., Carrozzino, D., Marchetti, D., Andreasson, K., Fulcheri, M., &Bech, P. (2016). Mental pain and suicide: a systematic review of the literature. Frontiers in psychiatry, 7, 108.)