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Dealing With Suicidal Thoughts

If you need help RIGHT NOW, Freephone the Samaritans 116 123 (callers from Rep of Ireland and the UK) for free helpline & face to face counselling support or Pieta House 1800 247 247 or Text ‘HELP’ to 5144 or ‘HELLO’ to 50808


There are times in life when we might feel totally, hopeless, helpless, overwhelmed with emotional pain. It can seem like there is no other way out of our problems, we've run out of ideas, possible solutions. Our problems seem unfixable. The pain feels like it will never end. We believe we've run out of options, and suicide is the only answer left.

Maybe the suicidal thoughts come to mind, you might have mixed feelings about them. They're frightening and confusing. For some people, suicide may be a way of getting back at others, or showing them how much pain you're in. But after suicide, you won't be there to see that they feel guilty, or finally understand your pain.

While thinking about suicide is maybe difficult if not impossible to prevent, preventing thoughts of suicide from moving on to become suicidal actions is achievable. Almost all persons at risk actively invite help and retain within them the desire to live even if they are temporarily not consciously in touch with that life force.

The capacity to hold suicide as an immediate option is almost always temporary. Negative feelings will pass. Depression feels permanent, but it's transient. Things will change. Depression comes and it goes. It is a temporary crisis, an attempt to stop the inner pain. You will get through this tunnel and come out the other side. The feelings will pass! Depression and pain distort our thinking. It can seem like we're wearing very dark tinted 'gloomy specs'. Everything looks different to how it really is.

Thoughts are thoughts - not necessarily how things are, although it certainly feels like the thoughts are true. Thoughts affect the way we feel, and thoughts and feelings affect the way we react, what we do.

Suicidal thoughts can result when we experience too much pain, without having enough resources to cope. We can survive the pain with

· calming grounding exercises

· talking with someone as soon as possible and regularly and

· taking to time to reflect on the deeper unconscious drivers that are causing the pain.

Calming Grounding Exercises

Engaging some of your senses shifts your focus of attention away from your negative feelings, grounds you into the present moment and brings calm and peace

Vision: Focus your attention on looking at something nice, nature, a painting of a beautiful safe place, watching a favourite programme, Film or You Tube video

Hearing: Listen to a favourite piece of music, sounds of nature, sing, ring a friend

Smell: Really notice smells - favourite perfume, food, essential oils, flowers

Taste: Use sensation of taste to focus your attention. Eat mindfully - savouring each moment

Touch: Wear soft comforting socks, stroke a pet or teddy bear, give yourself a hand massage, and massage oil, warm bubble bath, nail varnish, make-up

A good exercise which activates all our senses is “The 5 Senses Exercise”. This exercise turns our focus of attention away from the past or current distress, and into the here and now of reality and safety. Tell yourself you are having negative feelings but the feelings will pass. Notice what is right now.

5 things I can see: Look around you wherever you are inside or outdoors, notice the colours, the people, the shapes of things. Make it more real.

4 things I can hear: Listen to and really notice the sounds around you: the traffic, voices, washing machine, music etc.

3 things I can touch and sense: Self-massage your skin, notice the tensions and sensations in your body, how your clothes feel on your skin, touch some one or two objects around you

2 things I can smell or taste: Smell the roses, slow down your eating, really savour and taste what you are consuming

1 Mindful Breath: breathe deeply down into your belly; put your hand there (just above your navel) and breathe so that your hand gets pushed up and down. Imagine you have a balloon in your tummy, inflating it as you breathe in, and deflating as you breathe out. When we get scared, we breathe too quickly and shallowly and our body begins to panic because we're not getting enough oxygen. This causes dizziness, shakiness and more panic. Breathing slower and deeper will stop the panic.

Talk to Someone - now!

A decision to live is far more likely when a person at risk talks with a helper who is comfortable talking about suicide. There are people now at the end of a phone line or text who are there to listen and talk to the person at risk

  • Freephone the Samaritans 116 123 (callers from Rep of Ireland and the UK) for free helpline & face to face counselling support or Pieta House 1800 247 247 or Text ‘HELP’ to 5144 or ‘HELLO’ to 50808

  • Connect and be with others. Call, text, email - friends or family

  • A health professional: GP or Counsellor


After calming and talking it through with someone, the person at risk is ready to go deeper to reflect on what is unconsciously driving the negative thoughts and feelings.

  1. Observe: get in touch with your feelings – fear, anxious, depressed and discover the thoughts that go with them – I am useless; there is no point

  2. Question these negative thoughts : are they fact or merely my present opinion? Name the thoughts for what they are - as over reactions to a problem, as an unhelpful part of yourself, as not the real you. Replace the thought with more factual thoughts. Yes I have made mistakes but I have a lot of successes; I have much to give.

  3. Positive self-talk: “I can get through this - I've done it before” “I'm stronger than I think I am” “This will pass” “I can do this”

  4. Take one step at a time: Set out to get through the day, the next day, the next week or month, perhaps the next hour or even less. Tell yourself: "I've got through so far, I can get through the next hour".

  5. Divert your energies onto your hopes, interests and talents. What has helped me feel better in the past? What can I do right now that will help me feel better? What gives my life meaning? What are my goals, dreams or life values? E.g. Family, friends, pets, helping others, faith, spirituality, community life, connecting with nature.


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