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    Considering suicide: Don't let despair obscure other options

    Considering suicide: Don't let despair obscure other options
    MayoClinic, April 15, 2004

    Depression and hopelessness can cloud your thinking, and you may consider taking your own life. Learn about healthy coping strategies to get through a crisis.

    When life doesn't seem worth living anymore or your problems seem insurmountable, you may think that the only way to find relief is through suicide.

    You might not believe it, but you do have other options, options to stay alive and feel better about your life. Maybe you think you've already tried them all and now you've had enough. Or maybe you think your family and friends would be better off without you.

    It's OK to feel bad, but try to separate your emotions from your actions for the moment. Realize that depression, other mental disorders or long-lasting despair can distort your perceptions and impair your ability to make sound decisions. Suicidal feelings are the result of treatable illnesses. So, try to act as if there are other options, even if you may not see them right now.

    No, it probably won't be easy. You may not feel better overnight. Eventually, though, the sense of hopelessness can lift. You can find support, appropriate treatment and reasons for living.

    When you need immediate help
    If you're considering suicide right now and have the means available, contact someone for help. The best choice is to call 911 or your local emergency services number.

    If you simply don't want to do that, for whatever reason, you have other choices for reaching out to someone:
    • Contact a family member or friend.
    • Contact a doctor, mental health professional or other health care professional.
    • Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone in your faith community.
    • Go to your local hospital emergency room.
    • Call a crisis center or hot line.


    Crisis centers or suicide hotlines are often listed in the front of your phone book or on the Internet. They offer trained counselors, usually volunteers, who can help you through an immediate crisis. Some crisis centers with an Internet presence offer e-mail contact, but remember that responses may not be as prompt as with telephone support.

    Talking to someone about your feelings, connecting with them, can help relieve the burden of despair and isolation, even temporarily. It may help you shift perspective and more clearly see your other options.

    Daily coping strategies
    You may struggle with suicidal feelings frequently, perhaps many times a day. Develop a strategy to cope with those feelings in a healthy way. Consider asking a doctor, family member or friend to help create a strategy tailored to your specific situation.

    It may mean doing things you don't feel like doing, such as talking to friends when you'd rather hole up in your bedroom all day with the curtains drawn, or going to the hospital for a mental health evaluation. But stick to your strategy, especially when you're in the grips of despair and hopelessness.

    As part of your strategy, consider these measures:
    • Keep a list of contact names and numbers readily available, including doctors, therapists and crisis centers.
    • If your suicide plans include taking an overdose, give your medications to someone who can safeguard them for you and help you take them appropriately.
    • Rid your home of knives, guns, razors or other weapons you may consider using for self-destructive purposes.
    • Schedule daily activities for yourself that have brought you even small pleasure in the past, such as taking a walk, listening to music, watching a funny movie, knitting or visiting a museum. If they no longer bring you at least a modicum of joy, however, try something different, particularly if these familiar activities induce painful reminders.
    • Get together with others, even if you don't feel like it, to prevent isolation.
    • Avoid drug and alcohol use. Rather than numb painful feelings, alcohol and drugs can increase the likelihood of harming yourself by making you more impulsive, more open to giving in to self-destructive or despairing thoughts.
    • Write about your thoughts and feelings. Remember to also write about the things in your life that you value and appreciate, no matter how small they may seem to you.


    Some organizations recommend creating a "plan for life" or similar plan of action that you can refer to when you are considering suicide or are in a crisis. This is a checklist of activities or actions you promise yourself to take in order to keep yourself alive or stay on course with treatment. For instance, it may stipulate that you contact certain people when you begin considering suicide. It may also include commitments to take medication appropriately, attend treatment sessions or appointments, and to remind yourself that your life is valuable even if you don't feel it is.

    Also, consider creating a list of specific activities to try when you're feeling suicidal or just feeling bad. The key is to engage in self-soothing for a range of negative feelings, not just when you reach the point of suicidal thoughts. Make sure they're activities that would normally offer enjoyment and that can help comfort you, not cause additional stress. Then, do each item on your list until you feel like you can go on living. It can include such things as:

    • Practicing deep-breathing exercises
    • Playing an instrument
    • Taking a hot bath
    • Eating your favorite food
    • Writing in a journal
    • Going for a walk
    • Contacting family, friends or other trusted confidantes


    Even if the immediate crisis passes, consult a doctor or mental health professional, or seek help through an emergency room if your area isn't served by mental health professionals. They can help make sure you're getting appropriate treatment. Medication and psychotherapy, either individual or group, are often effective treatments for depression, anxiety, substance abuse and other mental disorders, and they can help you feel better about yourself and your life. Although you may not want to consider psychiatric hospitalization, it can help protect you and give medication and psychotherapy a chance to work more effectively.

    Seeing beyond the despair
    The despair and hopelessness you feel as you consider suicide may be the side effects of illnesses that can be treated. These emotions can be so overpowering that they cloud your judgment and lead you to believe that taking your own life is the best, or only, option.

    But even people with long-standing suicidal thoughts can learn to manage them and to develop a more satisfying life through effective coping strategies. Take an active role in saving your own life, just as you would help someone else. Enlisting others for support can help you see that you have other options and give you hope about the future. Suicide isn't a solution, it's an ending.

  2. #2
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    Re: Considering suicide: Don't let despair obscure other options

    For instance, it may stipulate that you contact certain people when you begin considering suicide

    I know what you are advising is good and solid, but I have to add one thing that I struggle with: I have tried or been close to trying suicide many times. More times than I can even comprehend. I feel as if I don't have anyone who would want to listen if I did contact them. I don't trust hotlines, and there is no way I will go to an emergency room. On top of this, I just feel very embarrassed that I can't seem to hold my head above water, and I just want to let go and float away.

    I can't stop crying. I cry all day, every day. I don't want to try anymore. Why should I, anyway? I have been in therapy for ten years! I am on seven different kinds of meds which I take religiously! What the H#LL am I doing wrong?

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    Re: Considering suicide: Don't let despair obscure other options

    I know what you mean. Hotlines just frustrate me anyway, but I have taken this advice in the past. I spoke with a person (close family member) and they advised me to call them whenever I was feeling suicidal. But, I don't think that someone not suffering from suicidal tendancies actually knows how all consuming it can be. I would call when ever I was most desperate, and began to feel like I was more of a burden to the individual than anything else. I began to recieve grumpy answers to my calls and as a result I stoped calling pretty sharpish (we are very sensitive creatures, arn't we? especially in times like these)
    Now that I am feeling better, I can see how much strain I would have been putting on that person. Even though I never wanted advice, just someone to hear me to the person listening the noise and the emotion is raw and very loud.
    I don't really know why I started this post, perhaps to give this kind of perspective to this coping model.
    However, the main point I would like to pass on to you is to get out of your cycle. Which is easy to say, and not so easy to hear when you've struggled for 10 years. I loath to see people on as many meds as you, not because they don't need them, but I worry about the effects of combining the different chemicals.
    However, I am NOT a doctor, so don't take advice from me on meds! lol. The getting out of your cycle refers to trying new things. Things that make you proud of yourself.
    Karate, I'm sure would be a good one (I am considering it for me at the moment) because you get rewarded when you get to the different levels. It has goals, activity (for endorphines), rewards, sociability, and competition (which is a good outlet for aggression (No, Im not talking violence)) and gives you something to look forward to.
    Think about things, (doesn't have to be a sport or a hobby) that you can do, to get out of your cycle. Getting out of the location that you are usually in,
    getting out of the physical slump (even if you are a gym goer, lets face it, gym is boring)
    getting out of the 'hum-drum' you may experiance in general day to day
    and just experiancing something new.

    Then lastly,... when you decide what your doing,.... don't look at it as a 'cure' or a 'self-help' or ANYTHING to do with depression. Just enjoy what it is, when your doing it.

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    Re: Considering suicide: Don't let despair obscure other options

    Quote Originally Posted by ^^Phoenix^^ View Post
    Now that I am feeling better, I can see how much strain I would have been putting on that person. Even though I never wanted advice, just someone to hear me to the person listening the noise and the emotion is raw and very loud.
    I keep thinking about this. This is how I think I am, a very loud, raw noise that just doesn't stop. People do get tired of it. And getting well is such a slow process with many steps backward it seems. But it isn't fair to wear other people out with the loud noise of depression and other issues. I guess that is why professional help is so important. But I'm wary of even putting all of it on someone in that situation.

    I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say except I'm tired of being this way and feeling everything is so slow and going so slowly.

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    Re: Considering suicide: Don't let despair obscure other options

    hi janet i can relate to this as well. i've put some close friends and family through a lot when i was in need of help. i still feel guilty about it but they all tell me not to worry about it. also i feel a bit guilty about what i put on my therapist's shoulders last week but i keep telling myself this is his job and he wouldn't be doing it if he couldn't handle these kinds of things. i guess i don't know what i am trying to say either other than that you're not alone in thinking these things. i guess we have to try and find a balance of some sort and not feel guilty about the things we do reveal.
    ~ our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising each time we fall - confucius
    ~ it is the journey, not the destination, that matters
    ~ keep hanging on, the sun will come shining through for you again

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    Re: Considering suicide: Don't let despair obscure other options

    I can relate to the part of whether my therapist can handle what I am telling him and being too much for him especially since my last therapist left on stress leave. It really made me wonder. I have been reassured by my new therapist that he has his own support system and ways of handling things and I am not to worry about him. His job is to help me and to worry about myself. I have been told to trust him on this that he is more than capable of taking care of himself. That was reassuring to hear and although at first I didn't know if I really believed and trusted him on this, I have to say that I am really starting to after each session. I truly try to hold nothing back and it is freeing to know that I don't have to worry about him.

    I hope this is sort of relevant to what you guys are talking about and I just wanted to share my experience. As for the other parts about being draining on people, I don't tend to talk to anyone about my depression so I keep it all inside.

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    Re: Considering suicide: Don't let despair obscure other options

    Quote Originally Posted by Eunoia View Post
    Considering suicide: Don't let despair obscure other options
    MayoClinic, April 15, 2004

    Depression and hopelessness can cloud your thinking, and you may consider taking your own life. Learn about healthy coping strategies to get through a crisis.
    What if you aren't depressed and your thoughts are not clouded and you think you're making a perfectly rational decision?



    It's OK to feel bad, but try to separate your emotions from your actions for the moment. Realize that depression, other mental disorders or long-lasting despair can distort your perceptions and impair your ability to make sound decisions. Suicidal feelings are the result of treatable illnesses. So, try to act as if there are other options, even if you may not see them right now.
    What if there aren't any emotions attached to anything anymore. And the thought is "This is the right thing to do"?
    Last edited by Cat Dancer; December 21st, 2006 at 09:49 AM. Reason: ...

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    Re: Considering suicide: Don't let despair obscure other options

    Quote Originally Posted by Janet
    What if you aren't depressed and your thoughts are not clouded and you think you're making a perfectly rational decision?

    What if there aren't any emotions attached to anything anymore. And the thought is "This is the right thing to do"?
    That's not logic or rational thinking. That's exactly the sort of distorted thinking that characterizes depression and related mood disorders.

    If you start to think that suicide is the "answer" to anything at all, that should be the first sign to you and those around you that you are not thinking clearly or rationally and that you absolutely need therapy and medication.

    It's really that simple. Because with the possible exception of someone enduringg a painful terminal disease with no hope of any possible outcome other than a painful death, the belief that suicide is an "answer" or "solution" to anything is always the result of distorted thinking.

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    Re: Considering suicide: Don't let despair obscure other options

    I just don't know. I've been trying so hard, the therapy and medications and I feel worse and I keep thinking when is this going to turn around and it doesn't.

    I can't attach any feeling to these thoughts so they seem rational to me. Right now it's hard to understand the concept that it is distorted thinking. I get so confused. I keep thinking maybe all my thoughts are distorted or maybe none of them are distorted, but how can only some of them be distorted? I don't understand.

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    Re: Considering suicide: Don't let despair obscure other options

    Janet maybe some of your ans are contained in this thread,
    Frequently asked Questions about suicide.

    "Is there such a thing as "rational" suicide?" page 2, #11
    This is the question I had a few weeks back Janet, sound similar to yours i think.

    You yourself replied in this thread.. maybe if you read over what you and the others wrote there, it might help??
    I'm afraid i have no answers for you.. as i still frequently think the same way. But i'm sure the others here can explain why some thoughts re rational and some aren't etc.


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