Today is suicide awareness day; but what does that mean?

We all have negative thoughts from time to time but nobody will ever notice if we don’t speak out or share our thoughts. For some people, speaking out and sharing is easy but for others, speaking out would feel like a betrayal of self or a sense of failure.

So how are we supposed to know when someone is struggling and they need help?

Put simply, we can’t. Negative thoughts and feelings aren’t always apparent and it’s often very difficult for the person experiencing these thoughts to make sense of what’s happening internally.

What types of issues cause a person to feel suicidal?

We often notice the social level issues such as debt, job loss, relationship loss, for example, but there are much deeper emotional issues that can play a part in suicidal ideation and the acting out of these ideas. Sometimes a person has a cultural belief that they need to be strong and, after trying to keep things together, they just snap. At other times, negative thoughts may be insidious, long-standing and be constantly nagging away in the background. Clients often present with thoughts that they aren’t important and that nobody will notice their absence, or thoughts that success will never be achieved and they are worthless. This list is not exhaustive and every person’s internal dilemma is different. Sometimes introjected unspoken messages or cultural scripts will play large parts in a person’s mental health and wellbeing. These introjected messages are very deeply rooted and take time to unravel and change.

What can be done to overcome these issues?

A properly trained and experienced counsellor or psychotherapist will be looking themes and repetitive patterns that link into the negative beliefs that drive a person’s value system and self-worth. This may sound easy and many self-help books profess to be able to unravel these issue in a few chapters that can be worked through and then voila! You’re fixed.Mental health is complex and needs to be understood in its entirety, not just on a social level and with a one size fits all approach. The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommend that treatment for psychological issues should be treated with talking therapies, medication, self-directed learning and advice and that a mixture of all these treatments is the treatment of choice.

How can cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) help? CBT and psychotherapy can support medication and self-help learning and deepen awareness and exploration of repetitive patterns of dysfunctional thinking. It can also give skills for life that can be used forever, over and over again.

What can I do if I’m feeling suicidal?

If you think you’re in danger of acting out your thoughts, visit your GP, ring the Samaritans on 116 123 from any phone, talk to a friend, family member or even a manager. Agree a safety plan and get some professional counselling help.

Don’t suffer in silence and remember A PROBLEM SHARED IS A PROBLEM HALVED

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