Dealing with suicidal thoughts
Sometimes people come to our website because they are looking for personal help.
If someone asked you right now if you are having thoughts of suicide, what would your honest answer be?
If your answer is 'yes', this is undoubtedly a very difficult time for you. You don't need to go through this alone. Help is available.
It is not uncommon for men who have experienced child sexual abuse or sexual assault to have to deal with suicidal thoughts. An experience of child sexual abuse or sexual assault can have men feeling distressed and overwhelmed both at the time and at stressful times in the future. If suicidal thoughts are unchallenged they can convince a man that because he is doing it tough now it will always be like this. If there is time to talk about suicidal thoughts they can provide a clue to what a man holds dear, about certain connections he values and the dreams and aspirations he has for life. In order for such conversation to occur it is first important to make sure you are safe now.
If you think you might harm yourself call for help immediately
- Reach out to someone you trust and ask for help. Tell them honestly how you feel, including your thoughts of suicide.
- Call 000 (police, ambulance, fire) or
- Call Lifeline 13 11 14 or
- Go, or have someone take you to your local hospital emergency department.
It is important to understand suicidal thoughts
I felt like shit, like there was no way out. It wasn’t like my first thought but it was there in the background.
Remember that thoughts about suicide are just that – thoughts. You don’t need to act on them. They won’t last for ever, and often they pass very quickly. Many people who have had serious thoughts of suicide have said that they felt completely different only hours later. It is common to feel overwhelmed and distressed during difficult times or when it seems that things will never improve.
Things you can do to keep yourself safe
- Seek help early – Talk to a family member or friend, see your local doctor, or ring a telephone counselling service.
- Postpone any decision to end your life – Many people find that if they postpone big decisions for just 24 hours, things improve, they feel better able to cope and they find the support they need.
- Talk to someone – Find someone you can trust to talk to: family, friends, a colleague, teacher or minister. 24-hour telephone counselling lines allow you to talk anonymously to a trained counsellor any time of the day or night.
- Avoid being alone (especially at night) – Stay with a family member or friend or have someone stay with you until your thoughts of suicide decrease.
- Develop a safety plan – Come up with a plan that you can put into action at any time, for example have a friend or family member agree that you will call them when you are feeling overwhelmed or upset.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol when you are feeling down – Many drugs are depressants and can make you feel worse, they don’t help to solve problems and can make you do things you wouldn't normally do.
- Set yourself small goals to help you move forward and feel in control – Set goals even on an hour-by-hour or day-by-day basis –write them down and cross them off as you achieve them.
- Write down your feelings – You might keep a journal, write poetry or simply jot down your feelings. This can help you to understand yourself better and help you to think about alternative solutions to problems.
- Stay healthy – try to get enough exercise and eat well – Exercising can help you to feel better by releasing hormones (endorphins) into your brain. Eating well will help you to feel energetic and better able to manage difficult life events.
- See your local doctor or a specialist to discuss support or treatment – Discuss your suicidal thoughts and feelings with your doctor, talk about ways to keep yourself safe, and make sure you receive the best treatment and care.
- See a mental health professional – Psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors and other health professionals are trained to deal with issues relating to suicide, mental illness and well being. You can find them in the Yellow Pages or visit your GP or contact a crisis line for information.
Thoughts of suicide occur to many people and for a range of reasons. The most important thing to remember is that help is available. Talking to someone is a good place to start, even though it may seem difficult. Tell someone today!
Find help in your local area
If you’re feeling suicidal, getting help early can help you cope with the situation and avoid things getting worse. After you get over a crisis, you need to do all you can to make sure it doesn't happen again. There are a number of sources of support in your local area. If the first place or person you contact can’t help, or doesn’t meet your needs, try another.
- Lifeline has centres all around Australia. Check their website for the centre closest to you (www.lifeline.org.au or www.justlook.org.au)
- General practitioners – look for one in the Yellow Pages, or contact your local community health centre.
- Community Health Centres – these are listed in the White Pages.
- Psychiatrists – look in the Yellow Pages, or ask a referring organisation such as Lifeline’s Just Ask. To claim the Medicare rebate, you need a letter of referral from a GP.
- Psychologists – you can find these through your GP, community health centre, the Yellow Pages or the Australian Psychological Society (APS). The APS provides a referral service on 1800 333 497 or visit their website at www.psychology.org.au.
- Counsellors and psychotherapists – you can find these through your GP, community health centre, the Yellow Pages or the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia Inc (PACFA). PACFA have a national register of individual counsellors and psychotherapists available to the public (www.pacfa.org.au).
- Call a crisis help line Mensline (A 24-hour counselling service for men) Ph 1300 78 99 78, www.menslineaus.org.au
- Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service Telephone: 1800 011 046, www.vvaa.org.au/vvcs.htm
- Lifeline 24-hour telephone counselling available anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call. Telephone: 13 11 14 The Lifeline website has resources and information related to suicide prevention: www.lifeline.org.au
- Kids Helpline (For young people aged between 5 and 25, is free, confidential and anonymous telephone and online counselling service Telephone: 1800 551 800 www.kidshelponline.com.au
- Headspace (A mental health website for young people) www.headspace.org.au
- Salvo Care Line (A crisis counselling service available throughout Australia. The website provides details of other services available through the Salvation Army) Telephone: 1300 36 36 22, www.salvos.org.au
- Suicide Helpline (VICTORIA ONLY) – Confidential telephone counselling, support and referral available 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout Victoria for the cost of a local call. Telephone: 1300 651 251, www.suicideline.org.au
- Crisis Care (Gay and Lesbian Counselling and Community Services of Australia provides information and links to counselling services for gay and lesbian people throughout Australia) Telephone: 1800 18 45 27 or see the website for numbers in your state/territory, www.glccs.org.au
- Lifeline’s Information Service (Information about mental health and other related issues for individuals, professionals, families and communities in rural and regional Australia) Telephone: 1300 13 11 14, www.lifeline.org.au
- Lifeline’s Service Finder: Just look (online database of low cost or free health and community services throughout Australia – free, confidential 24 hour service) www.lifeline.org.au or www.justlook.org.au
Note: Many of these services also offer interpreter services for those people who speak English as a second language.
Acknowledgement: This page was created with reference to the "Living is for everyone" publication Promoting good practice in suicide prevention: Activities targeting men produced by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing: 2008.