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Coping With Suicidal Thoughts

The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article is Jack Hinrichs, MA, LMFT, Outpatient Therapist. 

Suicidal thoughts, while scary, are not an uncommon experience. Many people have had suicidal thoughts at one point in their life. Please know that you are not alone, and you can overcome these thoughts and feelings.  

If you’re considering acting on suicidal thoughts, seek help immediatelyFind the nearest hospital or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 

Think of Today 

The first step in coping with suicidal thoughts is knowing that you do not have to act on these thoughts right now. Keep your thoughts focused on today, rather than the rest of your life. Everything might seem overwhelming right now, but you might be able to cope better in a few days.  

During this time, it can be helpful to bring your awareness back to the present moment through mindfulness practices. This includes breathing exercises, meditation, and grounding techniques.  

Related: 3 Ways Meditation Helps Your Mental Health 

Be Aware of Your Triggers 

The second step to coping with suicidal thoughts is to become aware of your triggers. Triggers are different for everyone.  

Ask yourself if there are any situations, events, or things that bring about the onset of these thoughts. Notice when they occur, and how you can avoid what makes you feel worse. Does a particular song, picture, or movie bring about unwanted thoughts and feelings? Try to avoid them.  

Jack Hinrichs, Outpatient Therapist at Nystrom & Associates, offers insight into combatting suicidal thoughts. “Protective factors from suicide are positive relationships, belief in your capacity to cope, concern for others, sense of belongingnessand having moral/spiritual beliefs.” 

Related: How Interpersonal Effectiveness Improves Your Relationships

Avoid Drugs & Alcohol 

Substances can alter the parts of your brain that control your behavior, judgment, and decision-making. Drugs and alcohol can negatively affect your emotions and make matters worse overall. Since alcohol and drugs both affect how you think and feel, it’s important to stay away from them. In addition, relying on a substance too often can lead to substance use disorder

Related: What is Substance Use Disorder?

Go to a Safe Place 

When you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, go to a safe space where you are not tempted to act on suicidal thoughts. This could be your bedroom, therapist’s office, crisis center, friend’s house, or a public space like a library or a coffee shop.  

Distract Yourself 

Another way to cope with suicidal thoughts is through distraction. Distraction techniques can help take your mind off your current thoughts and shift your focus into something more positive or neutral. Ideas for distracting yourself include: 

  • Make a list of all the positive things and people in your life. This could also be a gratitude list. Although it might seem difficult at the moment, try to think of a few things and keep adding to the list every day. Reflect on positive things other people have said about you.  
  • Get some fresh air and take a walk outside, preferably in a green space.  
  • Spend time with your pet.  
  • Play games, watch a movie or listen to music.  

Related: How Gratitude Can Change Your Life

Receive Support 

It can be extremely helpful to talk to other people about how you are feeling. Seek emotional support from friends/family members and professional support from your mental health care team. If a friend or family member is unavailable, you could talk to: 

  • A therapist or counselor 
  • An individual from a support line 
  • A teacher, colleague, or mentor 
  • A religious or spiritual leader 

If you’re not in the mood to talk, try not to spend too much time alone. Surrounding yourself with other people can help your safety, even if they are not aware of how you’re feeling.  

Related: Being Lonely and Being Alone: What’s the Difference?

A Word From Nystrom & Associates 

Above all, please do not struggle with suicidal thoughts alone. Our providers are here for you. If you don’t have mental health support, our care team will help you find a provider that’s right for you. Call 1-844-NYSTROM or schedule an appointment online.

Related: What Are Mental Health Days?

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