If you have survived a suicide attempt, you may have mixed feelings about what you have been through. It may be that you feel embarrassed, confused, relieved, disappointed, or resentful that you need help.
A common experience for people after a suicide attempt is fatigue and physical exhaustion. The suicide attempt, reactions from other people and treatment in the emergency department may all be overwhelming for you right now.
It is important to remember that while all these feelings are probably very intense at the moment, they will pass and a return to the normal pattern of living is possible.
Reasons to live after
It might be helpful at this time to reflect on your reasons to live. It may be your family, children, friends or even a beloved pet that are your most important reasons for living. Perhaps it’s a passion or interest that is meaningful to you.
While reflecting, you may want to write them down and keep these thoughts accessible in case you are feeling suicidal in the future.
Building support after a suicide attempt
Despite the many prevention programs, suicide is still a sensitive subject and is largely misunderstood. The stigma surrounding suicide might cause you to worry about what other people are thinking. Remember that it is up to you who you choose to talk with about what is going on right now.
At this time, it is important to be kind to yourself and surround yourself with trusted and supportive people. Building a strong support network is a key step in recovering from a suicide attempt and keeping safe in the future. It is helpful to have at least one person you can confide in, especially if you start to have thoughts of ending your life again.
Following a suicide attempt, it is likely that you have been referred to a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health professional. It is important to call on this support to help you get through this tough time, and deal with the issues that brought you to this point.
Coping with suicidal thoughts
Recovery from suicidal feelings is possible. You can learn how to manage these thoughts in the future to keep yourself safe, or you may get to a place where you no longer have these thoughts at all. Other people have recovered from suicide attempts and you can too.
Remember, even if you feel like you are alone, there are people who can help you.
Here are some ideas that can be put in place now to keep you safe in the future:
Create a safety plan
Working with your counsellor or doctor, create a plan that you can follow should the suicidal thoughts return. When creating a safety plan, it is important to be as honest as you can to ensure you are comfortable with your plan and it meets your needs. To get some tips on creating a safety plan see our Making a safety plan page.
Know where to get help
As part of your safety plan, create a list of services that you can turn to when you are in trouble. Helplines can be a good place to start. The Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 provides help to people who are at risk of suicide 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is a good idea to have your safety plan with you when you make the call because the counsellor can work with your plan to help keep you safe. If you don’t have a plan, a counsellor can help you create one.
Learn the thought triggers
Identify what sets off the negative thoughts. It may be that these thoughts are triggered when you spend a lot of time alone, when you are exposed to stressful situations, or perhaps on the anniversary of a painful event. Whatever the trigger is, make use of the safety plan when your triggers arise before you start to have the suicidal thoughts.
Learn some relaxation techniques
This can be a breathing exercise, progressive muscle relaxation or meditation. These activities can help to calm you and distract you from the intense thoughts. For some examples of relaxation techniques see our Helping yourself when you are suicidal page.
Distractions and stress relievers
Write down some activities that you may find helpful in distracting you from the intrusive negative thoughts. These might include the following:
- Listening to uplifting music
- Reading a book
- Drawing, sketching or painting
- Going for a walk
- Take time out to treat yourself to a small thing you ordinarily enjoy, and savour it
Taking care of yourself after a suicide attempt
Now more than ever it is important to look after yourself. For a while at least, life might feel dreary, uncomfortable or strange. Establishing a routine can help you to get through this difficult period. Eating well, getting enough sleep and doing some physical activity will help improve your mood. You can start introducing more things into your routine once you feel ready.
Should you continue to have suicidal thoughts, it is important that you get help. If you’re already receiving professional help or support, it’s important that you stay in contact with these services, particularly if you’re feeling distressed. If you feel you need some extra support, you may wish to consider calling a crisis line like the Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 or Lifeline 13 11 14.
You could also reach out to a trusted friend or family member. It’s very important that you are honest with the person who is helping you. Let them know how you’re feeling, and what you think you need to ensure you get the best possible help.
Recovery is different for everyone and it may take time, but it is possible.