What do I do if I am experiencing suicidal thoughts?
Are you experiencing the scary thoughts of suicide? Do you have concerns for someone in your life who is experiencing suicidal thoughts? If so, please know you are not alone. I know that it can be scary having these thoughts. Having suicidal thoughts is nothing to be ashamed about. It happens more often than we think, but isn’t spoken about often or openly due to the stigma surrounding mental health. But it is VERY important for you to know that anyone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts deserves a safe place to be seen, heard, and validated when expressing the pain they are experiencing. Please read along for more information including local resources to help if you or a friend is experiencing suicidal thoughts.
What important information do I need to know about suicide?
Suicidal thoughts occur when we are experiencing a great amount of pain. These thoughts may occur during very challenging life events. Just as each difficulty that arises in our lives, the presence of these thoughts are temporary. However, that does not make them easier to cope with. Trying to push them away can at times make them more persistent. It is human nature to try to push our thoughts away. As humans, we love to be in control. When things are happening outside of our control, often it is bothersome and scary. One helpful tool in coping with these thoughts may be to embrace them with curiosity instead of judgement. This way we can ask ourselves what are these thoughts trying to tell me? What need of mine is not being met? This is a great topic to explore with a therapist or a trusted loved one/friend.
How do I know when it is time to reach out for help?
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, you may have no idea how to receive the support you need. To start you can ask yourself “who in my life is a safe person that I can share how I am feeling with?” This step can be difficult but it also can be the first step you take to feel well again. After speaking with a friend, the next step you may want to take includes reaching out to a therapist and/or your doctor for support. This leads to expanding your support network. During any phase of our lives, support is important. It is even more important during times of great stress. By reaching out for professional help, you will be able to gain tools and resources with the goal of finding relief from these scary thoughts. Below are warning signs you can look for in yourself or a friend.
If you are concerned about someone or yourself, ask yourself the following questions. Has your friend or family member shown or shared any of the following:
1. Talking about wanting to die, be dead, or about suicide, or are they cutting or burning themselves?
2. Feeling like things may never get better, seeming like they are in terrible emotional pain (like something is wrong deep inside but they can't make it go away), or they are struggling to deal with a big loss in their life?
3. Or is your gut telling you to be worried because they have withdrawn from everyone and everything, have become more worried or on edge, seem unusually angry, or just don't seem normal to you?
How do I help someone I know who is experiencing Suicidal thoughts?
If your child, teenager, someone in your family or someone who you are close to is experiencing suicidal thoughts you may be unsure of how to help them. You may also feel pressure to respond in a certain way. It is important to know that the first step is just simply being there for them. It can be painful to hear someone you care about state they are thinking about killing themselves. This may bring up fear and even anger over the thought that your loved one would consider leaving you in this way, however it is important to know that their intention isn’t to abandon you, it is to end their suffering. In fact many people who experience suicidal ideation often feel as if they are a burden to their loved ones. An angry and fearful response can sometimes create shame, making it more challenging for the loved one to share their pain. If suicidal thoughts are severe and your loved one is an immediate danger to self or others please call 911. It may be helpful to do some research surrounding mental health services in your area (we have added some below). Often, it can be challenging and overwhelming to find mental health and psychiatric care. It may be beneficial to help your loved one make a therapy/doctor's appointment as soon as possible.
Suicide is a difficult thing to talk about. It is crucial to be forward when asking someone, “are you going to kill yourself?” If they say yes please follow up with the question, “how do you plan to do this?” Once this information is obtained a safety plan can be created helping your loved one remove the means, for example if they plan to use a weapon ensure they no longer have access to that weapon. It is important to then seek further professional help. It's a challenging subject and oftentimes the individual who is feeling suicidal is experiencing deep pain. It is important to note that the pain they are experiencing is not permanent, it can pass and they will feel well again.
Charlotte Women’s Counseling is capable of providing outpatient services to you or a loved one. We can also be a part of an aftercare treatment plan once released from an inpatient or an intensive outpatient program. We have included a helpful guide of resources for you to refer to depending on what type of care you are in need of.
Remember, if anyone is harming themselves now or has just harmed themselves, call 911 or take them to an emergency room immediately.
Written by our Master of Social Work Intern Karmen Robinson
Hopeway-Behavioral Health Residential Facility- 1717 Sharon Road West, Charlotte, NC 28210 Phone Number- 1-888-859-2106
Atrium Health Behavioral Health Charlotte- Carolinas Medical Center- 501 Billingsley Road Charlotte, NC 28211
Thompson Child and Family Focus Services
769 N Wendover Rd Charlotte, NC Phone Number # (704) 376-7180
Mecklenburg County Crisis Line 704-566-3410
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line: 741-741
Postpartum Support International: 1-800-944-4773
SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-4357
-Hopeway-Behavioral Health Residential Facility- 1717 Sharon Road West, Charlotte, NC 28210 Phone Number- 1-888-859-2106
-Atrium Health Behavioral Health Charlotte- Carolinas Medical Center- 501 Billingsley Road Charlotte, NC 28211
-Thompson Child and Family Focus Services
769 N Wendover Rd Charlotte, NC Phone Number # (704) 376-7180
-UNC Perinatal Psychiatry Inpatient Unity
101 Manning Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7160
Phone Number 919-966-9640
Outpaitent Mental Health Counseling
Charlotte Women’s Counseling
224 S Caswell Rd