|Topic||Supporting whānau through suicidal distress|
|Publisher||Mental Health Foundation|
Also known as suicidal ideation
If you are whānau, family, a friend, colleague, teacher or classmate of someone who is having suicidal thoughts, please also visit Suicide: worried about someone?
Whatever is going on for you that has led to how you're feeling right now is unique to you – but having suicidal thoughts is not. You are not alone, lots of people have thought about killing themselves and have found a way through.
Having suicidal thoughts can be overwhelming and frightening. It can be very difficult to know what to do and how to cope. You may feel very depressed or anxious or you may just feel really bad and not know what the feelings are.
You may feel like you are useless and not wanted or needed by anyone. You may be feeling hopeless about the future or powerless, like nothing you do or say can change things. You may be blaming yourself for things that have happened in your life, and you might think it would be easier for others if you weren't here.
You may not even know why you feel suicidal, and think that you have no reason to want to kill yourself. Because of this, you may feel guilty and ashamed, and start feeling even worse.
It can feel much worse if no-one knows what you are going through or how bad you feel. You don’t need to be alone. There are people who are willing, able and available to help you.
If you are having thoughts about taking your life, it’s very important to tell someone you trust so that you can get the help you need to feel better. If you can’t immediately find someone you know to talk to, there are always people who are contactable by phone and who are willing, able and available 24 hours to help you.
Talking to someone you trust can make a real difference. They may help you calm down and offer a breathing space while you decide what to do next. They may also be able to suggest how to manage your situation. It’s often easier for other people to see how to do this, particularly if they know you well.
Here are some people you could talk to:
If your request for help isn’t heard, ask again. You may need to find someone who can help you find the right person to talk to, or who will go with you to appointments or meetings.
Lots of people talk to their doctor about emotional difficulties or mental health problems, so your doctor will be used to listening to people talking about suicide.
It can be very hard to talk about having suicidal thoughts, but it's very important to share what's going on for you. If you have made a plan to hurt yourself, talk about what you are planning to do so that your doctor can understand how serious your thoughts are.
Ask any questions you’d like to about what’s happening, or ask a support person to ask for you.
So they can help you feel better, your doctor or counsellor will listen to you in private, and ask some questions about you and your situation. You might want to have some of your family, whānau, friends and support network with you. You might not. Just say what you would prefer.
If you’re very distressed, it might be suggested that you take some medication, which will help you feel calmer.
Your doctor or health professional may want to talk to your whānau, friends or family about you and your situation. They will do this with your permission but if there is serious concern that you are in danger, they may talk to others without your consent.
When you ask for help, you have the right to:
(Source: Ministry of Health)
When you are in emotional pain, it can be hard to believe that you will ever feel better. Others have found the following information has given them hope and helped them recover from suicidal feelings. One really useful point to remember is that you only have to cope with one day at a time. It can also help to know that as your mood has changed before, so it can change again.
Here are some ways you can take care of yourself:
If you have not seen a doctor or mental health professional before, it is a good idea to do so. They will listen to you in private, and ask some questions about you and your situation. This is so they can help you and, together, you can develop a plan of action. Not everyone who is thinking about suicide is experiencing a mental illness, like depression or anxiety, but it is routine to be assessed for this so you can receive the right kind of treatment or support.
Your doctor will explain there are several treatments that can help, including:
Talking therapies or psychotherapy has helped many people who have had thoughts of ending their lives. Talking about your situation can help you to make sense of what you are going through and explore different ways to cope and recover. Your doctor will explain what is available locally and which type of talking treatment is most suitable for you.
Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants, anxiety treatments or other medications. Often both medication and therapy is useful. Finding the right medication can be a matter of trial and error – there is no way to predict which will be effective for, and tolerated (have fewer troublesome side effects) by, any one person.
If you are prescribed medication you are entitled to know:
If you are breast feeding no medication is entirely safe. Before making any decisions about taking medication at this time you should talk with your doctor about the potential benefits and problems.
Complementary therapies may be used in addition to other treatments and prescription medicines. Any health-related practice that increases your sense of wellbeing or wellness is likely to be of benefit. In general, mindfulness, yoga, exercise, relaxation, massage, mirimiri and aromatherapy have all been shown to have some effect in alleviating mental distress.
Complementary therapies can include using a number of herbal and other medicinal preparations to treat particular conditions. It is recommended that care is taken as prescription medicines, herbal and medicinal preparations can interact with each other.
It is really important to look after your physical wellbeing. Make sure you get an annual checkup with your doctor. Being in good physical health will also help your mental health.