Explore long-term strategies to manage suicidal thoughts and feelings
Recovering from suicidal thoughts, feelings and behaviours in the long term often means digging deeper. It’s about looking into why you feel suicidal and making permanent changes that will keep you from feeling suicidal again in the future.
Below are some suggestions for long-term coping strategies:
Attending therapy on a regular basis can help you with your suicidal thoughts and behaviours. A psychologist can help you understand why you have suicidal thoughts, teach you coping skills, and support you through your recovery. Therapy can also help you develop self-awareness and healthy coping strategies, so you can identify and handle triggers better.
“Blocking out the critics both around me and in my own head gave me the strength to reject the stigma around mental health and finally get the help I needed.”
Working with a psychologist can be a helpful way to explore the underlying emotional issues that may be contributing to your suicidal thoughts, feelings and/or behaviours.
- What to expect when working with a psychologist
If you can’t afford individual therapy, group therapy is another option. You can also try peer support groups, which are free. The Lifeline Service Finder can help you to locate peer support groups in your area. Remember, support groups should not replace individual or group therapy.
- The benefits of group support for suicide
Having a mental health disorder might make you feel suicidal. If this is the case, your psychologist might refer you to a doctor or psychiatrist who can prescribe medication to help stabilise your mood. When your mood is more stable, it can make it easier to work through uncomfortable emotions with a psychologist. Different medications work for different people, so you may need to try a few medications, or different dosages before finding the one that works best for you.
Changing your circumstances
Sometimes, certain issues or situations in your life can make you feel suicidal. It may be helpful to try to address these issues when possible, even though they can be complex.
This might feel challenging, but just taking the first step can make a big difference to your mental health, and give you back a sense of control.
Remember, you’re not alone. There are many people and support services that can help you through the steps you’re taking, and even help you understand which step to take first.
Some of the life circumstances that contribute to suicidal thoughts, feelings and behaviours include:
- Financial struggles or unemployment
- Lack of community or connection
- Relationship issues
- Friendships that make you feel bad or encourage harmful behaviours.
Other long-term strategies
- Recognising your triggers
- Strengthening social connections
- Building meaning and purpose
- Growth through struggle
Psychologists have labelled the positive change and growth many people experience after stressful life events, “post-traumatic growth.” Not everyone experiences post-traumatic growth, but a large percentage of people can, and do. Working through difficult experiences with a psychologist can help increase your chances of experiencing post-traumatic growth.
Whether you’ve been thinking about taking your own life, or you have attempted suicide in the past, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Here are some examples of post-traumatic growth:
- Build resilience: managing through periods of suicidal thinking can help you develop greater resilience and coping skills that can be applied in other areas of life.
- Greater self-awareness: surviving suicidality can help you become more aware of your emotional needs, personal values and strengths.
- Purpose and meaning: surviving a suicide attempt could help someone discover a sense of purpose and meaning in helping others facing similar challenges.
Here’s what post-traumatic growth can look like:
- Relationships with friends and family become stronger
- Increased positivity about the future
- The identification of new strengths and skills
- Increased self-confidence
- Increased self-reliance
- Strengthened spiritual values and beliefs
- Finding new meaning in life
- Re-evaluation of your life’s purpose and goals.
This kind of positive change and growth happens when you make meaning out of your experiences. It usually takes a lot of time and energy to get to this point, and getting to this point doesn’t mean that your pain disappears completely. It means that it no longer controls your life. You’re able to move on from what was driving you to take your own life and live a functional and fulfilling life.
When dealing with thoughts of suicide, it's natural to feel overwhelmed and disheartened if the long-term strategies you've tried don't seem to be working. However, it's important to remember that not every approach works for everyone, and there are always other options available.
Don't lose hope and keep exploring different approaches until you find what works best for you. Remember that ongoing research is being conducted in this area, and new strategies and treatments are constantly emerging.
No matter how hopeless it may seem, you're not alone in this struggle. If you feel like you've exhausted all options, don't hesitate to seek help. Asking for support is a sign of strength and courage, and there's no shame in reaching out for assistance. With the right help and support, it's possible to overcome these thoughts and lead a fulfilling life. Remember that there is always hope, and things can get better.