How to cope with suicidal thoughts
SUICIDE is a national health problem that takes an enormous toll on the entire community. But sadly, every minute of the day, someone attempts to take their life, and every 12.8 minutes, someone dies by suicide. Suicide does not discriminate. It occurs in every age, sex, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation and financial status. Studies have consistently found that the overwhelming majority of people who die by suicide had a mental disorder at the time of their death.
According to research, approximately 0.5 per cent to 1.4 per cent of people die by suicide — about 12 per 100,000 persons per year around. The most common reason that drives people to get relief from the clutches of painful life is poverty. The lack of basic amenities of human life leads towards starvation that makes people to commit suicide without even thinking it a wrong act.
Committing suicide nowadays has become a common activity, which is being practiced by several individuals in different countries. Mostly young people commit suicide, especially students. In recent years, incidents of suicide appear to have increased and suicide has become a major problem. From available evidence it appears that most suicides occur in young people under the age of 30.
Unfortunately, young men/women taking their own life have become so common that it’s hardly alarming anymore. If any reader is contemplating or even thinking of committing suicide, I would like to inform them that life is precious and there are resources available if they will just avail themselves of any church or professional counselling services, all of which can be found in the Yellow Pages of the telephone directory. Here are some techniques that you can use to deal with the feelings and thoughts of suicide and help you overcome the pain.
1. Leave the place of danger: The first and most important thing to do is to move away from the place or situation where you can potentially act on the suicidal thoughts. Make your home safe by asking someone you trust to remove the dangerous items (knives, ropes, etc) that you can use to harm yourself.
2. Shift your focus with a distraction: When the thoughts of suicide are really intense, it can be hard to focus on anything else. But the destructive thoughts in your head are not who you are. Those are negative thoughts. You are more than that. You have the ability to choose what your mind focuses on.
Try to do something that can distract you from the negative thoughts. It can be watching a movie, going out for dinner or simply meeting a friend for coffee. Remember that negative thoughts will not persist for long and can go away.
3. Breathe: When we are caught in a stressful situation, our anxiety level goes up. The thoughts of suicide can come about because we are looking for relief from the pain that we are experiencing. There are simple breathing exercises that you can do on your own to calm yourself down and bring about a healthy emotional state. Try releasing your stress with a breathing exercise called “Inflating the balloon”.
Step 1: Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes.
Step 2: Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Step 3: As you breathe in, imagine that your abdomen is filling up with air like a balloon. As you exhale, imagine that the air is escaping the balloon slowly. With each release of breath, feel the tension leaving your body. Breathe at a pace that is comfortable for you. There is no need to force the air out; it simply escapes on its own, in its own time.
4. Stay away from alcohol and drugs: Certain substances like alcohol and drugs can diminish your judgment and ability for self-control. Avoid them as they may cause you to act on suicidal thoughts.
5. Reach out to someone who cares: Sometimes when people are depressed or feeling overwhelmed, they may want to withdraw from others. Being alone when you have thoughts of suicide is not helpful. There are people who value and care about you. Call someone you trust and talk to them about what you are going through. It may feel awkward at first but it is important to reach out to keep yourself safe.
This is an opportunity to bring in people who are concerned about you to be part of your journey of renewal and restoration. They may also have solutions that you may not have thought of. Therapists and counsellors can also help you to overcome self-defeating thoughts. Life is precious. It is a one-time commitment, and it won’t come again. So we need to remind ourselves that we should never give up hope, no matter how hard life is.
—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Mumbai, India.