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Some thoughts for World Suicide Prevention Day (and beyond)


Essentially, suicide prevention should be important every day, and not just remembered one day a year, via hashtags and inspirational quotes. In February, presenter Caroline Flack ended her own life, prompting millions of people to write #BeKind, which was then again seemingly forgotten. It seems that the way the human brain works is focusing on whatever seems more pressing at the time. So, when Caroline’s death was at the forefront, it seemed a lot more important to encourage others to open up to friends and family and perhaps start counselling sessions, and for everyone to be kind to each other. As soon as other news took over, it suddenly seemed more important to fight with each other about which group of people is to blame about the rise in cases of Covid-19. Today, Twitter is full of messages of kindness and support, which is actually pleasant to see. Tomorrow, there might be more divide yet again.


However, hopefully, someone, somewhere, will get the message that it is ok to ask for help, that others want to help, and that their life is worth living. Therefore, part of the reason I am writing this post is to try and repeat this message, because this is actually another way the human brain works: Repetition makes things stick, even when it doesn’t seem that this is the case.

You deserve to be a part of this world, you are worthy of love, and you deserve happiness.


Who could you ask for help though, and why? Perhaps you could talk to someone you love and trust, or to a therapist, about how you've been feeling. However, I understand that this might seem daunting. You might be experiencing shame or guilt about disclosing that you have suicidal thoughts or tendencies, as others might seem fearful of discussing these issues. On the one hand, this is understandable, because nobody wants to lose a loved one or think about this possibility. People are also sometimes fearful that discussing these thoughts might make someone act on them. Nevertheless, these assumptions are generally not correct.


Psychological research shows that discussing these thoughts with a professional and/or loved one, can significantly reduce the possibility of actually committing suicide. Part of the reason is that someone can help you put together a concrete plan for when these thoughts become very intense: Who to call, what distraction behaviours to engage with, and how to bring yourself to a stage where you no longer feel actively suicidal, until that stage can become the norm for you.


The word “prevention” also might have some worrying connotations, as you might feel that your suicidal thoughts will be dismissed or you will somehow be punished for opening up. I would suggest seeking out a therapist that incorporates Internal Family Systems (IFS) in their work, which essentially focuses on the principle that everyone is made of different parts, that are equally important and worthy of love.



For instance, your suicidal part might be used to hiding and feeling ashamed because of how it’s been treated by society, but it is no less worthy of speaking up than your happy, or loving, or funny, or serious, or anxious, or sad parts. The suicidal part is really trying to tell you something, and it is important to have someone (a loved one, or a therapist) that will listen to it and understand where it's coming from.

It might sound weird, but the suicidal part of yourself is actually trying to help you survive. It is probably there to give you hope for a way out, a way that you won’t have to be in pain anymore. A way to think about this is that it's great that you found a way to help yourself have hope. You also clearly don't want to hurt, and this is a very good sign of self-love and compassion being able to eventually flourish. It is likely that through talking and exploring how you feel, you might find that this particular method of escape might not serve you well right now. It is also likely that talking to someone you can trust can help you increase your window of tolerance for emotional pain, give you different ways of coping, or change your life perspective towards a more optimistic outlook.


Overall, through listening to your suicidal part as an equal to all your other parts, you can begin to integrate your own narrative and self, and potentially find different ways of finding hope and reducing emotional pain. That way, you will be able to eventually look for different ways that can help you feel better, without having to renounce the part of yourself that helped you look for hope earlier on.


Whether this post might help you or a loved one re-consider certain preconceptions about suicidal thoughts, or prompt you to look more into IFS (some more resources here: https://www.pesi.com/blog/details/1442/all-parts-are-welcome, https://ifs-institute.com/about-us), or has vaguely interested you, or bored you, or left you indifferent... It might just be worth repeating:


You deserve to be a part of this world, you are worthy of love, and you deserve happiness.



*If you are affected by this topic and wish to talk to someone right now, don't hesitate to get in touch with the Samaritans https://www.samaritans.org/. If you are interested in arranging therapy sessions (also incorporating IFS), please get in touch with me or consult https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb or https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/.

#WorldSuicidePreventionDay #InternalFamilySystems #WhyTherapyCanHelp #SpeakUp #BeKind

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