32ND ANNUAL CRIME PREVENTION GUIDE 40 I’m HavingThoughts of Suicide There are many crisis centres available 24 hours a day to talk to you. Thoughts of suicide can sneak up on some people when they are not expecting it. For others, they can come and go and still for others, they always seem to be in the back or front of their mind. If you are experiencing suicide-related thoughts, you need to know that you’re not alone. By some estimates, as many as one in six people will think seriously about suicide at some point in their lives. WHAT YOU NEEDTO KNOW ABOUT SUICIDE RELATED THOUGHTS Suicide-related thoughts can mean different things for different people.They can be an early warning sign that a person is under a lot of stress and worry. They can be the result of intense feelings that a person doesn’t know how to name or how to cope with. For others, suicide related thoughts can be tied to a diagnosed mental illness such as a major depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, an anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, or substance use. Having these thoughts can be scary for some and for others, may be perceived to be a comfort as they believe that it may offer a choice or some control when things feel overwhelming and insurmountable. When thoughts of suicide arise, know that “your brain is not your friend”.We know that the intensity of the feelings and thoughts interfere with a person’s ability to problem solve. Living and dealing with these thoughts can be helped through treatment. It’s not easy and still, neither the thought nor the feelings will end a person’s life; it’s what you do with those thoughts and feelings. Treatment is not one size fits all. Different treatments work better for some people and at different times in their lives. If you find you are thinking of suicide and can’t think your way out of those thoughts, reach out to a friend, a family member, clergy member, crisis line, therapist or counsellor. They may help you see alternatives, even if just for the time being, to help you keep yourself safer. Will the thoughts go away? The intensity of thoughts of suicide will wax and wane and for some, they may experience these thoughts only once in their lifetime. There can be moments or even days or years of comfort, relief, contentment, even humour or joy, in the midst of experiencing thoughts and feelings that in the moment seem to “never go away”. An example might be that even if my life is falling apart, I can still smile when I eat my favourite food while petting my cat. I can go on a vacation or a day trip and get some relief from the intensity of the thoughts, for the time being. Reasons for living or engaging with possibilities of a future can help manage the current pain. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, it’s hard to think of the big picture of a future.That’s because your brain has engaged in what is called “constricted thinking”. Break it down into smaller chunks. “Future” might mean until the next commercial, an hour, a day, a month, or a year. Some people find it helpful to have pictures of people they care about or who care about them; a card or letter from someone important to them; a poem, painting, or song, nearby to remind them they are cared about. Some people find distraction activities helpful, a crossword puzzle, word search, movie, online games, exercising or dancing are some ideas. Do not keep suicidal thoughts to yourself! By sharing your thoughts with someone who can hear your distress, you are no longer holding “the secret” alone. There is no shame to thoughts of suicide. The thoughts are giving you important information that all is not well. There are people who are willing and able to help.Talk to someone, a friend, therapist, clergy member, family member, or teacher and let them know you are wanting their help because the situation feels so horrible. If the first person you try to talk to doesn’t get it, try someone else. Not everyone has the skills and where some people are good at “doing” things, others are good at listening. Pick someone or a resource you think will be best at the moment. See page 87 for a list of resources where you can get help! Need Help Now? Call The Island Helpline 1-800-218-2885 Available 24-7