Coping with Suicidal Thoughts


5 November 2020  |   5 min read

Suicide is a real concern. Approximately 800,000 people die due to suicide every year according to World Health Organisation. If you are feeling suicidal, please know that you are not alone in your struggle, much as it may feel so. You may find the following information helpful in tiding you over this period.

What does it mean to be suicidal?

If you feel suicidal, you may experience specific thoughts, imagery, and an impulse to act on your feelings. These suicidal thoughts are usually related to thinking that no one cares, feelings of worthlessness or uselessness, and that you or other people deserve the suicidal act. There may be associated imageries of picturing the suicidal act and after-death states. There is also an urge to harm yourself with the intent to die. The combination of these feelings may be extremely distressing.

Why do people feel suicidal?

Contrary to common misconception, people who feel suicidal are not crazy. They feel suicidal when their coping resources are overwhelmed by psychological pain. Psychological pain can be caused by overwhelming feelings of sadness, anger, stress, loneliness, etc. When these feelings become too much to handle, people feel hopeless and turn to suicide as a way to express or to try to escape from their pain.

Even though you may be feeling suicidal, you do not have to be controlled by it. Also, you never have to struggle through all this alone. The good news is that with time and help, you will be able to reduce those feelings by increasing your capacity to cope with the pain. Sometimes, the pain may reduce over time as well. You can end your pain without having to end your life. But in order to be able to experience that relief and improvement, you will need to ride out your intense feelings of suicidality. How can you do so?

Tips and Resources

Help yourself cope

Sometimes, in your clearer moments, you do not want to die and are in fact quite resourceful in helping yourself cope with distress. However, those resources are difficult to access when the suicidal urges become very intense. As such, you can create coping cards to remind yourself of what you can do to soothe yourself when you are feeling very overwhelmed. You may consider using the recommended apps below to help you with creating your coping cards.

The good news is that with time and help, you will be able to reduce those feelings by increasing your capacity to cope with the pain.

Removing access to lethal means

While you are riding out your suicidal urges, it is important that you create an environment that will help you stay safe. To do so, you will need to remove potentially dangerous items and drugs in your vicinity. Making these less accessible will help you to resist the urge to act on your suicidal impulses.

Find reasons to live and hope

Amidst the storm that you are going through now, you need an anchor to secure you. This anchor is the reason you have for living. Think through and write down a list of people, things, memories, and future goals that give meaning to your life. By doing so, you may find that the feelings of hopelessness that often plague people with suicidal urges begin to lift. You may use the recommended apps available on Android and iOS to help you create a “Hope Kit” – a compilation of your reasons for living

Seek professional help

Not all persons with suicidal thoughts have a mental health condition. However, a large proportion of people who attempt suicide have a mental health condition. If you are feeling suicidal, you may have a mental health condition. The promising news is that mental health conditions are highly treatable with the help of a psychiatrist and/or psychologist. You may be given medications and/or offered psychotherapy for treatment, which are proven effective for treating mental health issues

Calling suicide hotlines

In times of severe distress where you need to speak with someone immediately, there are suicide hotline services available for you. The calls are free and you will be speaking with volunteers or professionals who are trained to deal with suicide crisis. The numbers are below:

  • Samaritans of Singapore (SOS; 24 hours): 1-767
  • Mental Health Helpline (24 hours): 6389 2222
  • Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH) Helpline:
    1800 283 7019
  • If you have a case manager in IMH, please contact your case manager directly or via IMH operator:
    6389 2000

*Please note that we do not have any propriety or financial interest in recommending these apps. Such apps are solely for personal use, and are not a substitute for professional help.

This article is republished with permission from Institute of Mental Health.

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Important note: This article by no means replaces professional help and advice. If you are in severe distress, please seek help promptly from a psychiatrist and/or psychologist.

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