September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, an awareness day that raises awareness of suicide and promotes action aimed at reducing the number of suicides and suicide attempts globally.
Suicidal feelings can mean having abstract thoughts about ending your life or feeling that people would be better off without you. Or it can mean thinking about methods of suicide or making clear plans to take your own life.
If you are feeling suicidal, you might be scared or confused by these feelings. You may find the feelings overwhelming.
But you are not alone. Many people think about suicide at some point in their lifetime. These experiences can make us more likely to experience mental health problems.
Different people have different experiences of suicidal feelings. You might feel unable to cope with the difficult feelings you are experiencing. You may feel less like you want to die and more like you cannot go on living the life you have.
These feelings may build over time or might change from moment to moment. And it’s common to not understand why you feel this way.
The type of suicidal feelings people have varies person to person, in particular in terms of:
- How intense they are – suicidal feelings are more overwhelming for some people than others. They can build up gradually or be intense from the start. They can be more or less severe at different times and may change quickly.
- How long they last – suicidal feelings sometimes pass quickly, but may still be very intense. They may come and go, or last for a long time.
- If you’re finding things tough, Mind’s website offers information and advice to support everyone, visit mind.org.uk/suicide-prevention. You can also access support at Oxfordshire Safe Haven, and through the Samaritans.
- Our Information Service provides an information and signposting service, but it’s not a crisis line. If you’re in crisis and need to talk right now, there are many helplines staffed by trained people ready to listen. They won’t judge you, and could help you make sense of what you’re feeling.
- Talking about suicide can be difficult, especially in the workplace. Creating an environment where people feel able to speak about how their feelings, without judgement, can help make these conversations easier.
If someone does open up about their mental health, we know it might not always feel easy to know what to say. Here are some tips for talking to someone who may have suicidal thoughts:
- Give them time. You might feel anxious to hear their answers, but it helps if you let them take the time they need.
- Take them seriously. People who talk about suicide do sometimes act on their feelings — it’s a common myth that they don’t. It’s best to assume that they are telling the truth about feeling suicidal.
- Try not to judge. You might feel shocked, upset or frightened, but it’s important not to blame the person for how they are feeling. They may have taken a big step by telling you.
- Don’t skirt around the topic. There is still a taboo around talking about suicide which can make it even harder for people experiencing these feelings to open up and feel understood. Direct questions about suicide like ‘Are you having suicidal thoughts?’ or ‘Have you felt like you want to end your life?’ can help someone talk about how they are feeling.
- Ask open questions. These are questions that invite someone to say more than ‘yes’ or ‘no’, such as ‘How have you been feeling?’ or ‘What happened next?