Lived Experience Insights | Suicidal Thoughts

Honest and real responses to a range of personal questions about suicide from people that have lived the experience, with the aim of helping those that may be living a shared experience.

Suicidal Thoughts

  • Be present with them, don’t rush them and don’t rush to fix their problems. Give them your time and help them to gain more time.
  • Just sit with them in the dark.
  • Just be and accept your presence as enough. words aren’t always necessary.
  • Ask them what they need? Be okay with them not quite knowing.
  • In the long haul it needs more than just me. Sure, establish trust and acceptance: listen, understand. Be felt as a caring constant in their life. Offer snippets of one’s own lived experience to show it happens to others too – and be hope. Work together on what to do – fill in a safety plan together and more – try for fun and enjoyment. BUT I do not bear the whole load. Encourage and foster help seeking from professionals and others. Plus be supported myself.
  • Let them talk about it, openly and safely. Don’t badger them about getting to a psychologist or psychiatrist because wait times are long. Just listen and support their path to support.
  • By listening and just being there, without judgement or panic.
  • Acknowledge and respect their narrative.
  • It’s like being on a roller coaster, you have moments of clarity, and you have moments of terror. Very often the two would be present at the same time around the same desired outcome. For a period, it felt like I only had one way to get off the ride.
  • Like you will never find a way out of the dark place you are in.
  • I felt ashamed of feeling that way.
  • I couldn’t believe that I was feeling like my only option was to end my life. I could never have imagined getting to that place previously.
  • It ebbs and flows, scary sometimes, comforting at other times.
  • Loneliness and calm at the same time. It feels right and relief the pain and hurt will stop.
  • I have suicidal thoughts so often now that it has become a normal part of my life. The only thing that changes is the severity of the thoughts. However, I know that they will pass.
  • Contemplating ending your life can sometimes be a relief in some ways because I can see an escape from the pain I am experiencing.
  • It feels lonely, isolated, alienated. It feels like you are alone in your pain. It feels like nothing will ever take this feeling away, but then I sit with it, in it, and it moves.
  • When life seems to be a long series of unbearable catastrophes one cannot face, then taking one’s life seems to offer comfort. An escape always to hand. It is a mark of recovering when that offer becomes less and less important.
  • Depression can fill the mind full of thoughts you believed were your own. Thoughts that concentrate on self-blame, impossible problems, and no hope in any direction. There is guilt for those one loves, for being so hard for them. This gradually edges into thinking by taking your life you are doing them a favour. Giving them the chance to start again with someone better. It is only later when depression no longer reigns one can see how mistaken one was. They would have been heartbroken, and no way started again.
  • Lonely. Like drowning. Not understanding how you ever didn’t feel this way. Like being in a fog you can’t escape. Looking around and not understanding how everyone else is so happy and just going about their day. It feels like failure.
  • Confusing. Distressing on the one hand but liberating on the other. The thoughts come at times of distress and fear, deep sadness. They offer peace and control.
  • The feeling around being asked changes. At first, it’s like a rehash of stigma that exists in that ‘once suicidal always suicidal’. On reflection it’s then an amazing thing to be asked and to have people strong enough and brave enough to ask the question.
  • A relief that someone cares enough to ask and is okay to talk to about it.
  • I don’t like to admit I have those thoughts so mostly deny them. I am more likely to talk with someone who has the same lived experience.
  • Relief that someone noticed. I might not tell them, but it will change my thinking.
  • I see it as a way of someone showing they care.
  • It depends who asks, the context, and if they say it with genuine caring – …or if they are asking clinically like a checklist – then it feels othering, alienating, like I am an object or an experiment.
  • One can wear a mask, present the world with an ordinary face, hiding all inside. It seems easier – at least to start with. No fuss, no need to go into uncomfortable conversations, no need to endure the shame. So early on when asked say “All good”. However, as time goes on the mask becomes exhausting, keeping up the pretence, plus it leaves one so alone. In isolation removed from ordinary folks. Eventually it can become too much, and one can answer honestly “well yes, I have been thinking of taking my life”.
  • Like there is stigma. Like I can’t say yes. Scary. Lonely. Embarrassing.
  • Shame, I feel shame and fear. I don’t know how to talk about it.
  • Find someone who you trust and someone who will give time to and space for me to go through the emotions that come with the story.
  • I find it hard and only tell little bits when asked by someone I consider a safe person.
  • I find someone I trust, usually someone I know has had those feeling too.
  • First decide why you want to tell your story. For yourself? To provide others with a sense they are not alone? To make things better for all? Seek advice.
  • Take time to really know who I am and what’s meaningful for me in life. Understand what things lead to what emotions and be kind to myself when any emotion comes up. Be curious about the emotions. Have a plan in place around who you can trust to speak with and let them know that they are that person and let them know how to support you when you need their support.
  • The best support for me was from people who were professional such as psychologists and mental health workers as well as the people I met who were also seeking support from professional services.
  • It was easier to talk to people who I didn’t know before as they didn’t have expectations or assumptions about me based on previous knowledge.
  • I stay safe in my favourite place with my pets, binge on favourite shows, or games. I may go on chat rooms, just reading others hardships lifts me up.
  • Breathing exercises – good food – plenty of exercise – nice company.
  • Suicide Call Back Service.
  • Psychology, Roses in the Ocean, friends, music.
  • Psychology, other people also dealing with suicidal thoughts, non-judgemental friends, friends that will help you to get out and do things that are fun.
  • Meditation classes
  • Practicing mindfulness.
  • Creative pursuits such as painting and writing
  • Friends, family, GP, pets, online chat rooms.
  • Telephone crisis services, mental health triage, mental health public health services.
  • Grow Australia, horses for hope equine assisted therapy. Counselling and a good Dr.
  • Suicide Call Back Service. GP. Mental Health Accredited Social Worker.
  • Look for a comfortable time and place. Be prepared to spend a decent amount of time with the person. Start with what has been noticed that has made them worried and then ask – are you thinking about suicide?
  • Tell them you care and just ask.
  • Say you are worried about them and probe more into how they are really feeling.
  • Prepare/know what to do if you are confronted with a “Yes”. Choose a time and place where there is privacy and no hurry. One approach is to say you are worried about them, maybe that they have not been themselves or maybe they have troubles or maybe (whatever seems appropriate). If you are lucky, they will say what is troubling them. Then offer an opening: “Life has thrown a lot at you, some in your situation would be thinking of taking their lives, it’s understandable. How about you – have you been thinking of taking your life?” (Don’t use soft words like “something silly”, be direct). Be prepared to be rejected, and if so, say you will still be around.
  • Do NOT say how much I have to live for. The beautiful house, the great job, etc, etc …. Not only are those things totally irrelevant but they simply make me feel more isolated, more alone. It empathises the vast gulf between how I am and others’ understanding.
  • Ask them how they are feeling and be true and kind and also ask them about thoughts. Remember that it may be hard to see their distress, but don’t forget about checking in with the person in any case.
  • I would ask them if there is any chance you could be suicidal but only after building mutuality in the relationship.
  • Start of with are you ok and then after listening to them establish a ‘safe place’ to ask the question do you ever think of suicide.
  • “Are you having thoughts of suicide or harming yourself? It’s okay to say yes if you have.”
  • The literature says to ask directly, but I find this confrontational and would say no even if it was yes. I might prefer someone to lead with a personal statement: when things get tough, sometimes people or I think about escaping life of ending my (their) life. Are you having thoughts like that?
  • For me when I had suicidal thoughts, I wouldn’t have approached anyone to voice them. In fact, it’s more likely that the thoughts will be hidden and come out in other actions. Safety planning and telling someone close that when they see A, B or R from me to ask me something or do something.
  • Tell someone who can help you get the support you need and will respond without judgement. Tell them clearly you are thinking about ending your life.
  • It’s very tiring when having the thoughts and reaching out takes energy you don’t have. If I’m genuinely asked it will have an impact.
  • Make sure it’s the right person to approach, if you trust them, it will flow
  • By being a Lived Experience representative on committees etc like Roses in the Ocean – sharing our story helps others and gives hope that we can get through this.
  • I would like to be able to share with others in a sensitive and fun environment, or find lived experience work, even just a couple of days, and listen and support, or enjoy company with others.
  • Volunteering or facilitating support group.
  • I am just starting be aware that my telling my story may help others as they can see there are solutions that can help and work before an attempt is made.
  • By sharing the honest story. By sharing a message of hope.
  • Let them know you care and will be with them.
  • Ask them what support could make the even the smallest difference for them.
  • Be with them and let them know they are safe and no judgement. Ask what you can do and let them know you would rather they stay and how can you help them.
  • I reach out. Just by not ignoring them can be enough, sometimes a chat is all the person may need, other times they need to seek professional care as well.
  • Ring Emergency services. Do everything you can and stay with the person.
  • Ring an ambulance or willingly take to hospital. Keep them talking and keep them safe while waiting for help.
  • Offer a safe space and listening ear, without judgement or panic.
  • Stay with them. Be there as long as they want you to be and just listen.
Date Published
September 28, 2022
lived experience , lived experience insights , suicidal thoughts
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