Maybe you’re here to look at how to kill or harm yourself.
Wherever you are in your journey, know this.
You are not alone.
We hope this series of ways offer useful insights to managing thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Stop for 5 minutes.
If you find yourself thinking about self-harm or suicide, it’s easy for me to say stop. But it might not be that easy for you to stop it, especially when it seems so attractive. Thus, you need a ‘safer’ method of stopping, rather than just telling yourself to stop.
It’s like if I told you to stop thinking about an elephant playing a trumpet whilst standing on one leg.
What are you thinking about now?
An elephant with a trumpet whilst standing on one leg.
Refocus your attention with a rubber-band.
One useful trick my therapist taught me a few years ago when I was struggling was to refocus my attention. When you focus your attention on the thoughts of self-harm/suicide, you end up magnifying the action in your mind.
Refocusing is about first being aware of that focus on self-harm. I’ve conditioned myself so that whenever I focus on negative thoughts of suicide/self-harm, I pull the rubber band on my wrist.
I let it snap against my wrist.
It is a sudden jolt to my senses. It signals to me that I’m not safe. I need to change my environment to avoid further triggers.
Get out of the house and go to a nearby park.
You might feel unsafe at home, where there is the comfort of being alone. You are able to close your door, and be alone.
Alone with your thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
If that is something you are facing, get out of the house. Go to a nearby park.
Being in a natural environment can be spiritually healing, allowing you to connect with nature. It calms your body.
More importantly, it moves the mind’s association with home being a place for self-harm, to a safer environment.
When everything is buzzing in your head, it can be hard to slow down, and meditate.
Yet meditation has a way of calming the mind, and helping you to be comfortable with your emotions.
Mindfulness meditation is not about getting rid of thoughts.
It’s about being comfortable with them.
Meditation has a more preventative aspect though. I would recommend that you set a daily ritual to do it at a set time and place.
It’s helped me.
You can use apps such as Headspace.com, which features cute, engaging cartoons to encourage you to meditate.
Write it down.
For those that might be more inclined to writing, finding an outlet for the emotions you are feeling is useful.
Find a book. Write down everything you feel, why you feel this way, and the worries you might have.
Getting it out onto paper can be immensely cathartic. It helps you to make your abstract emotions and thoughts into something tangible you can see.
It seems less confusing that way.
Draw it out.
If you are artistically inclined, try this. Draw out what you feel at the moment. Or what you are thinking about. Just draw.
Talk to a friend.
Pick up the phone and call a friend.
Talking to a friend helps because it allows you to see that you are not alone in your journey. There are others who are interested in helping you.
Self-harm and suicide is not a sign of hopelessness. It’s a sign of you calling for help. You want that pain to reduce, but you can’t seem to do it.
Talk to your friend for that help.
The Samaritans is a worldwide organisation that consists of trained volunteers talking to people facing thoughts of self-harm or suicide. It’s also for people who just want a listening ear.
If a friend is not available, call SOS at 1800-221-4444. Don’t feel like you’re troubling them.
They want to hear you.
Find a therapist.
Finding a professional who can help you work through your emotions is healing. A professionally trained therapist or counsellor can help to clarify the thoughts you are feeling, and give you better ways to manage them.
They are also trained to contain the emotions you feel. For example, if you feel like crying or screaming in frustration, therapists are trained to handle that.
Your friend might be a good resource. But he or she might not be adequately trained to know how to manage your complex emotions.
A professional can help.
If you are willing to ask for help.
Write down a list of friends you can contact.
Knowing the list of friends you can contact anytime, anywhere is vital. These are friends who would ideally know what you are going through. They are also friends that listen more than they speak. They don’t try to give you advice.
Instead, they listen. They simply listen.
If you are feeling incredibly down, exercise. Exercise naturally releases ‘happy hormones’ which help to raise your mood naturally.
Personally, I would advise that you make this a daily habit. Whether or not you feel like it, go for a walk or a run.
It keeps your suicidal/self-harm thoughts at bay.
Write down why you love yourself.
When I first saw my therapist, his assignment to me was to write down a letter of love to myself.
‘Write down what is worth celebrating about you.’ He explained.
Celebrating yourself might seem to be ridiculous, but it works in raising your self-esteem.
Let’s face it. Not everyone is going to celebrate us. Not everyone is going to love us.
We need to learn how to celebrate ourselves.
Write down the qualities you love about yourself and how you have shown them over the years. For example, one quality I love about myself is compassion.
I love you because you are so compassionate. Even though you were busy, you still took time every week to serve those with intellectual disabilities. You never stopped connecting with people who were neglected and marginalised by society.
You will it helpful.
Self-harm and suicidal thoughts can often be seen as a sign of hopelessness and helplessness. But reframing it as a cry for help, and a desire to reduce the pain you are feeling is a more positive way to look at it.
You might be suffering at the moment, but you won’t suffer forever.
As long as you continue to reach out for help, you will find a willing hand who will accompany you through the darkness.