Trigger Warning: suicide
September comes with many things: fall leaves, cooler temperatures, and children back at school. Another topic you may have coincided with in September is Suicide Awareness month. Posts statistics and facts are posted all over social media during this month, but what does it really mean to have suicidal thoughts? What is the stigma behind them? And more importantly, what can you do about them?
The Thought We Don’t Talk About
First and foremost, what is suicide? You may have seen or heard the word before, but are unsure what it actually means. Suicide is the act of intentionally taking your own life. So if that is the definition, do suicidal thoughts mean you are going to intentionally take your own life? Not necessarily. Suicidal thoughts can range in severity and require different actions when they occur. Some are abstract or fleeting thoughts about ending your life. For example, wanting the stressor or pain to end or thinking people would be better off without you around are common themes of suicidal thoughts.
These kinds of thoughts are similar to another kind of thought called intrusive thoughts. Intrusive thoughts are often sudden distressing idea that pops in and out of our heads, but can then lead to anxiety about why the idea came about in the first place. The presence of these thoughts depends on multiple factors like environmental stressors, negative life events, and physical or mental health disorders, to name a few. Just like any thought or feeling, they are not permanent, even though they may feel that way at the time. This kind of suicidality is often referred to as Passive Suicidal Ideation because the person is thinking about death and dying, but not planning to commit suicide.
Without interventions, these thoughts and feelings can grow into a scenario where a plan and intent are made to end one’s life. This is where other methods are needed to ensure your safety and process the causes of these feelings.
Why We Don’t Talk About That Thing
With a thought so serious and distressing, one may wonder why it is not talked about more often. There is a large stigma about suicide in that some people may feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit these kinds of thoughts. Others believe that talking about suicide will encourage an attempt. Regardless of the reason behind the stigma, the result is the same: people do not feel comfortable discussing suicide whether it is the thoughts of their own or of others. This, in turn, leaves more people suffering with increasing symptoms and risk because simply talking about these thoughts, without judgment, can be extremely helpful to the healing process. Isolating a person for suicidal thoughts instead of talking about ways to support them will do nothing but harm them further.
What Can You Do About The Thing We Should Talk About?
As I said earlier, suicidal thoughts are often extremely distressing and can lead to other symptoms of poor sleep, neglecting self-care, avoidance, and low self-esteem. Texas Harmony Counseling is happy to be a supportive and safe place for you to discuss these suicidal thoughts and provide you with tools to decrease or eliminate the impact of these symptoms while increasing healthy coping habits.
Another avenue of assistance is the National Suicide Lifeline. They have made it even easier to connect with trained counselors who are available 24/7. By calling or texting 988, an individual in distress can receive immediate assistance from someone who is free from judgment and only wants to care for their safety.
Regardless of who you are, what you are experiencing, and how bad it may seem, we are here for you.
If you would like to speak with a counselor, contact Tx Harmony Counseling here.