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It is one of those topics that can make people feel uncomfortable and uncertain about what to say or do.
People who have experienced thoughts of, or who have attempted suicide may feel guilty, embarrassed or just feel that it is private and no one else’s business. Other people who have lost someone to suicide may feel angry, upset or be grieving and also find it difficult to discuss.
However, even though it’s difficult, it’s important to talk about suicide to help understand what to do if it affects your life – whether this is by feeling suicidal, being exposed to suicide through the media, or knowing someone who has taken their own life.
As a teen, there can be many pressures. There are challenges to:
It’s also a time when many young people are thinking about and working through big questions about identity and the meaning of life. For example:
For some people the ups and downs of life can feel overwhelming and at times unbearable. Many young people will have thoughts about not being able to cope with life, and for some, this may involve fleeting thoughts of wanting to give up or die. For example:
Understanding what factors may increase the risk of suicide can be really useful, especially if you may be having suicidal thoughts. It’s important to remember that many people experience these factors and never feel suicidal.
Some factors linked with greater risk of suicide include:
What are some of the warning signs?
There are often indicators and warning signs that someone may be at risk of attempting suicide, but they can sometimes go unnoticed. While these signs can help alert you that there may be a problem, it doesn’t always mean that someone is suicidal. Signs include:
Suicide is preventable and help is always available. Remember, having suicidal thoughts are just that – suicidal THOUGHTS. While they can be difficult to manage they do not need to be acted on.
Suicidal thoughts and feelings can occur for a short period of time and may be triggered by something we don’t know how to cope with or if we are feeling particularly vulnerable. If you are feeling suicidal, it is often not the best time to be trying to ‘solve’ your problem. That may sound strange but often the difficulties are really complicated and you need your brain to be working at its full capacity! Remember, just like every other part of your body, your brain will function best when it is rested and when you have been eating properly and generally taking care of yourself. The first step in dealing with feeling suicidal is to look after you! One way of doing this is to set up a plan to help you stay safe.
Set up a safety plan
By developing a safety plan, you can learn ways to look after yourself if you are experiencing distressing and painful thoughts and feelings. A safety plan is only a short-term solution but it can help you gain some control over your thoughts and feelings, so you can work out what the best option is for you.
A safety plan is a plan that helps you feel safer, a reminder of things to refrain from doing and a list of places or people you can call on if things don’t start to feel any better.
Talk to someone
One of the major factors that puts someone at risk of suicide is the thought that they are alone and don’t have anyone to turn to. Many people feel too scared or ashamed to talk about how they are feeling or what they are thinking. It can be difficult to talk about suicide, especially if you are feeling scared about how others will react, or even just scared of how you are feeling in general.
However, it is important to reach out and talk with someone who might be able to help you. This could be your friends, your friend’s parents, a teacher you feel comfortable talking to, a school counsellor, a priest or pastor or a GP.
If you are feeling suicidal, it is important to talk with someone about how you are feeling. Even if you feel scared or ashamed, you deserve the help that is available to you. Everyone does!
If you don’t feel comfortable talking with someone you know, you could always call us – we have counsellors available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact details can be found at the bottom of this page.
Come up with a list of distractions
If you feel like you may act on your thoughts, think of things you know will help you to feel better for the short-term. For example:
Make a list of some things that could increase your risk
If you are feeling suicidal, it is important to talk with someone about how you are feeling. Even if you feel scared or ashamed, you deserve the help that is available to you. Everyone does
Depression or other mental health problems can be really difficult to work through. It is important to seek medical advice if you have concerns about your mental health. You might be having depressed feelings for a reason and seeing a GP that you feel comfortable with will give you the opportunity to talk about what is going on for you. GPs can also prescribe medication that might help and refer you to a psychologist or a psychiatrist for extra support.
Some other options for help are:
If you are concerned about a friend who you think might be suicidal, it is important to know that there are ways you can help.
Firstly, it is very important to tell someone who can help your friend stay safe. It is a lot of pressure to take on the responsibility of trying to stop a friend from attempting suicide. If they are feeling suicidal they will usually need more support from professionals and family, such as GP’s, counsellors, teachers, school counsellors, principals, parents and/or other adults that can be trusted.
If your friend does not wish to see someone about how they feel:
If your friend doesn’t want to talk with someone face to face, encourage them to contact us. If they are worried or nervous about getting help, you might even suggest that you will be with them when they make the call or log onto web counselling.
Your friend may ask you to keep it a secret. This may be because they are scared of someone finding out and/or they are frightened about the feelings they are having. It is important that you let a responsible adult or organization know, so they can help your friend. This may cause conflict, however, it is better that someone else knows rather than leaving them to deal with this alone.
Finally, look after yourself. If you need to talk, seek support from family, close friends and/or counselling services like us!
If a person follows through with their suicidal plans, it is important to know that no one is to blame. As much as you may have tried to help someone, sometimes no matter how hard we try, those we love and care about still act on their feelings and end their lives. For people who are left behind after someone suicides, a wide variety of emotional and physical symptoms can occur.
Common emotional symptoms include:
Common physical symptoms may include:
These emotional and physical reactions are quite normal. However, when you have experienced a loss through suicide it is important to seek support through family and friends. It can also be useful to seek counselling. This will provide you with the opportunity to share how you are feeling with someone who is trained to help.
Encyclopaedia of Children's Health
Last Reviewed February 2015