Reasons to Live
“No matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.” — Maya Angelou
Suicide has been prominent in social media recently. It is a very difficult subject to talk about but it is vital that we do.
In our clinical work we talk to people on a daily basis who have had suicidal thoughts. They are extremely common. In fact many of you reading this may have had them at one time or another. They can cause great distress and generate feelings of fear, anxiety, hopelessness and shame; all very negative emotions. They are also often accompanied by the fear of disclosing them to others such as family members who love us or professional people who are there to help us. When these thoughts and feelings are not addressed they can give rise to negative behaviours such as isolating oneself, self-neglect, harmful coping strategies such as using drugs and alcohol, self-harm and ultimately suicide.
Examples of suicidal thoughts are
“What is the point of going on?” and “they will be better off without me”
Adverse events such as a bereavement, bullying, abuse, loss of a relationship or a job often precede suicidal thoughts, particularly when we feel we cannot cope with what has happened or deal with its aftermath. Pregnancy, chronic pain and many long-term physical conditions may trigger them. Underlying mental ill-health can also be the cause, as can the habitual use of drugs and alcohol. In those under 25 some antidepressant tablets can increase suicidal thoughts at first and when the dose is increased.
Suicidal thoughts can feel insurmountable, but they do pass, as everything does and there are many options for support available
All geographical areas have a dedicated crisis team.
Your GP can be a good source of support
There is support too for those who have lost a loved one to suicide https://supportaftersuicide.org.uk/
When suicidal thoughts arise, it is important that we acknowledge them. We can see them as a conversation with the Self and in engaging in that conversation we can challenge the narrative.
“They will be better off without me” can be questioned. Is this really true? Usually it is not. We can explore why we have come to suggest this and investigate what negative core beliefs might be at play.
“What is the point?” is a question. We can answer it. What do we have in our life that make it worthwhile, that we love, or enjoy, or would miss? This might be a loved one, a valued friend, a job with purpose or a beloved pet. These are our protective factors. The reasons that remind us why we do want to go on.
The next time you feel overwhelmed by a situation or you experience any suicidal thoughts try this breathing exercise:
Sit in a quiet comfortable spot with your spine straight
Close your eyes
Place your feet flat on the floor
Feel the Earth beneath solid
Take your awareness to your breathing
Appreciate the tidal quality
Allow the out-breath to become a little longer than the in-breath
On the out-breath feel any tension leaving your body
As you breathe a sense of peace settles over you
say out loud
“I am present”
“I am ok”
Now bring to mind all of your protective factors
The ones you love
The activities that you enjoy
The things that you treasure
The goals that you want to achieve
Feel gratitude for this moment of serenity and know that you can invoke this feeling whenever you need to.