Having suicidal thoughts can be a response to feeling overwhelmed, as if your life is out of your control. You may feel a need to escape and that it will never get better.
You might think that your family and friends would be better off without you, but it is important to remember that suicidal feelings dissipate. Experiencing these thoughts does not mean you need to act on them.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and suicidal
The following is a list of activities that some people find helpful when feeling overwhelmed and suicidal. You may want to keep a list of the ideas that work for you so you can refer to them when needed.
- Think about another time when you might have faced a similarly stressful time in your life and what you did to cope. Can you do the same things now?
- Think or write about the last time you felt a little better than you do now.
- To tackle feelings of worthlessness, write a list of your strengths and achievements, no matter how small they may seem.
- Challenge your thoughts. You may think things will never improve and no one cares about you. But this is not the truth. Try to put things into perspective and tell yourself:
- Things can get better over time with support and help.
- There are positives, even if it is hard to see them right now.
- There are people who care and want to help. Take the first step to ask for support.
- Stay focused on the present, as worrying about whether things will ever improve often leads to feeling more overwhelmed. You can do this by breaking up your day and planning a short activity that will distract you, and then plan your next activity once you’ve finished that one. Some examples of activities include:
- Listening to music that improves your mood
- Having a bath
- Sitting outside or going for a short walk
- Spending time with your loved ones or pets
- Watching a favourite movie or television show
- Reconnecting with areas of your life that give you a sense of meaning e.g. spirituality, social service, your vocation
- Taking some time out to treat yourself to a small thing you ordinarily enjoy and savour it.
- Take care of your physical health
- While it isn’t easy when you’re feeling so overwhelmed, eating well, maintaining a daily routine, and keeping active can all help you feel more able to keep on top of things.
- Relaxation techniques
- Learn about relaxation and coping techniques. There are a range of relaxation techniques that may help to reduce feelings of being overwhelmed. You can learn more about these by searching for reputable websites and apps and visiting your local library or bookshop. Some examples of other relaxation techniques are:
- Body scans: Also known as ‘progressive muscle relaxation’. Lie down or recline in a chair. Take slow breaths and begin the body scan with your feet. Tense the muscles for 10 seconds and then release them for 15 seconds. Work your way up the different muscle groups of your body.
- Breathing exercises: Find a comfortable position, and either close your eyes or focus on something in the room. Begin by taking a slow breath in through your nose, holding that breath, and then slowly releasing the breath out through your mouth. Once you’ve exhaled, hold your breath again, then repeat this process until you feel a little calmer. You may find it easier to concentrate on this by counting slowly up to three.
- Mindfulness:Rather than trying to stop your upsetting thoughts and feelings, try to acknowledge and accept them without judging. Also know that you experience a range of thoughts and feelings beyond those you are having now. Each state is temporary and will pass.
- Grounding techniques can help you cope and take the focus off your emotional pain. Below are some grounding exercises you can try:
- Find an item, pick it up, and describe it in detail (e.g. texture, shape, colour, and how you might use it).
- Pick a category (e.g. TV shows, cars, countries) and try to come up with as many things as you can think of that fit into the category.
- Pour a glass of cold water and take a few slow sips, focusing on the sensation of the water in your mouth and as you swallow.
- Reach out to a friend or family member. You may want to withdraw, but connecting with others can help you to feel better. If you can’t meet in person, call or message the person.
- Contact a helpline. Call Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or click on the floating chat button on the right to speak to a professional counsellor. Our service is free and available 24/7. You can also call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
- Have a suicide safety plan in place
- A suicide safety plan can help to keep you safe when you are low or feeling suicidal. This plan should include a list of people and services you can call for help, activities that you can do to distract yourself from suicidal thoughts, and reminders of your reasons for living.
It’s important to remember that what works for one person may not work for another. If you are feeling overwhelmed and suicidal, please reach out for help.
You can talk to someone like a family member, friend, GP, or health professional. Remember that Suicide Call Back Service counsellors are available 24/7 and are here to support you. Call us on 1300 659 467.
For kids, teens, and young people, contact Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.
In an emergency
If you are in immediate danger, or concerned for your safety in any way:
- Call 000 and request an ambulance. Stay on the line, speak clearly, and be ready to answer the operator’s questions.
- Visit your local hospital’s emergency department.
Remember that you are not alone. There are people who care about you and want to help. Please reach out for help if you are feeling overwhelmed and suicidal.
If you are feeling suicidal and need someone to talk to, call Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 to speak to a counsellor. To access online counselling, click on the floating chat button. Our service is free.
If it is an emergency, please call 000.