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Suicide means ending your own life. For many who die in this way it is a route to escape pain and suffering. A suicide attempt means someone has tried to end their life but did not die. When someone ends their own life we say ‘died by suicide’ or ‘took their own life’. We no longer use the term ‘committed suicide’ because of its previous association with suicide as a criminal act – suicide in Ireland was de-criminalised in 1993.
Prevelance of Suicide
During the year 2019, 421 lives were lost to suicide and intentional self harm in Ireland. Suicide was and is more prevelant among males with rates three times higher than that of females. The age group showing the highest rate of death by suicide was 35 to 44 years old (90 cases) however 63 people under the age of 25 also lost their lives in this manner during that period.
While thankfully overall suicide rates have been falling in recent years, it remains a significant mental health concern
Suicide ideation means wanting to or thinking of taking your own life.
Passive suicide ideation is when you wish you were dead or could die but don’t have any plans to carry this out. Passive suicide ideation does not mean it is harmless as the train of thought has the potential to make you more likely to harm yourself.
Active Suicide ideation is not only thinking about it but actually having the intention or plan to carry out the ending your own life.
Causes of Suicide
A number of factors can contribute to suicide ideation and suicide.
Suicidal thoughts can begin to arise when you are feeling low, feeling your life is out of control, has no meaning or purpose or you are feeling hopeless.
These feelings may be due to current circumstances like a recent trauma, relationship problems, a crisis, work pressures, financial difficulties or a physical health issue. Other mental health issues like depression, PTST (post-traumatic stress disorder) or anxiety can also be contributory factors.
Risk factors for suicide can include:
- Feeling lonely or isolated
- Living in a remote area.
- A previous suicide attempt
- Having a mental health disorder
- Suffering from a chronic physical illness, chronic pain or a terminal disease
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Experience of childhood abuse or trauma
Symptoms or warning signs of Suicide
Some of the warning signs that you or a loved one are thinking about or planning suicide include:
- Isolating yourself from those you love and who care about you
- Talking about death or suicide
- Giving away possessions
- Acting as if you are saying goodbye to people
- Feeling extremely anxious
- Increased moods swings including irritability, anger, or rage
- Accessing the means to end your own life such as medication etc.
Treatment for Suicide
If you have suicidal thoughts you will need professional help and should seek the assistance of a Doctor or Therapist. Talk therapy, like Counselling or Psychotherapy can help you explore why you are feeling suicidal and help you to understand, learn the warning signs and cope. Talk therapy can also help you with substance abuse treatment. You GP may prescribe medication to treat underlying issues like depression or anxiety; Lifestyle changes, including managing stress, building your support network, participating in hobbies and interests, improving eating, sleeping and exercise habits can all help to reduce the risk of suicide.
Coping with suicidal thoughts
There are some ways to help reduce suicidal thoughts and get yourself back on track:
Know your Triggers
Try to identify situations, circumstances or relationships you find stressful or that get you down and look at what changes could make things better for yourself. Talk to a close friend or a Therapist to help find ways to improve things for yourself.
Understand that Feelings are temporary
Try to understand that feelings come and go and that the intensity of feeling you sometimes experience will not last. Talking to someone is especially helpful to gain a better perspective on things, even when life seems hopeless.
Build your community support
Build a support network of people you value and who value you in return. Feeling connected to others will nurture your wellbeing. Also listening to and sharing the concerns of others will help bring you perspective, take you out of your own thoughts and find meaning in your life.
Pursue hobbies and interests
Develop your interest in hobbies and activities. Seek out enjoyable things to do which will both widen your social network and give you a sense of purpose and fulfilment. Consider volunteering as giving to others not only benefits them but also promotes your own sense of purpose and self confidence.
Look After Yourself
Take care of your body by eating healthy, regular meals. Get plenty of rest. Take regular exercise especially outdoors as this will help relieve stress and anxiety and support your emotional wellbeing. Even a short walk in the outdoors will take you out of your head and help lift your spirits. Practice simple grounding exercises which will help calm your mind and ease stress and anxiety.
Creating a Safety Plan for if you are feeling suicidal
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts it can feel overwhelming. You may be in so much emotional pain that you feel unable to cope. At times like this hurting yourself or ending your life might seem like the only answer.
A Safety Plan helps you to take care of yourself when things get really tough. It will remind you of your reasons to live, help you stay safe and cope when things are overwhelming you.
We have created a My Safety Plan template for you to fill in and help keep you safe.
You can use it for yourself, or for someone you care about.
Complete your Safety Plan when you are in a less vulnerable state of mind and if you feel able, tell your GP, friends and family that you are creating one or ask them to help you with it.
Keep it where you can easily access it if you need it. Maybe keep a copy on your phone as well as in your home.