World Mental Health Day and Suicide Prevention
Updated: Dec 17, 2019
Today is World Mental Health Day and this month we look at the theme of suicide. Samaritans reported “One in three people who pick up the phone to call the Samaritans disclose they are lonely or feel isolated.”
We have all heard the cliche how can we be feeling lonely as current digital technology is enabling us to connect to so many people, places and absorb so much information. It is shocking to read figures from C.A.L.M website that 84 men take their own life in the UK every week.
Loneliness is the opposite of connection. In feeling lonely we can feel disconnected to loved ones and our self. When we feel disconnected we can feel hopeless and this can lead to some people feeling life is too painful to carry on.
Suicide in counselling theory terms can be seen as an act of violence towards the body and self.
I am curious as to how someone has chosen to end their life, hanging or jumping in front of a train can symbolise unexpressed anger, self hatred, worthlessness and rage. Other types of suicide such as taking pills, symbolise going to sleep, avoiding pain - a melancholic sadness. This has a different energy and revolves around despair and anguish. Suicide encompasses all of these feelings and is very hard to make sense of.
Working as a counsellor, I do not want to underestimate the level of pain a client is feeling. I aim to explore what does the “suicidal part of yourself need?” "How long have you felt like this?" Often clients will notice conflict between the rational part and suicidal part and say, “I am healthy, have loving friends and family but why do I think about jumping in front of train?” Therapy space allows exploration of difficult feelings such as shame that can often be seen as taboo. Being listened too can help soothe feelings of isolation, overwhelming grief and anger.
The therapy space does not guarantee someone stays alive and therein lies the difficulty as suicide can impact any one, any family at anytime. Families and loved ones of those who have been bereaved by suicide will have many questions which will go unanswered.
It is a deeply traumatic time. Some of the work will include exploring themes around judgement, rejection, resentment of having to sit in limbo of never knowing exactly why or what happened and working through feelings of guilt. Part of the grieving process is sharing the story and some people may feel silenced due to the stigma surrounding suicide. Life is painful - these words stayed with me as we are meaning making beings and struggle with not knowing. Often we can veer away from emotional difficulties and desensitise from the present because life is painful.
For more support please check out the below signposting:
Talk to your G.P.
Feeling suicidal talk to someone, in the first instance your G.P. to rule out any medical issues and also they can suggest local signposting such as free counselling or if you would elect to be sectioned due to feeling at risk of harming yourself.
Having a safe space to express anger, rage or sadness and to be witnessed is a powerful process. Facing emotional demons, stressful baggage for 50 minutes can be a unique place where you no longer have to carry burdens, feel ashamed or experience isolation.
The Samaritans are free to call, also offer face to face chats in their local offices. Unsure? Check out their website for more information.
Face to face support for those who feel life is no longer worth living. A place with a warm, open listener based in Pimilco - London.
Offers 4 night free stay for those who feel at risk of harming themselves, they offer suicide respite care and are open 365 days of the year. They are based in Finsbury Park and hope to open a second home in Manchester.
999 - Emergency Services
If you know someone is about to take their own life, or you are about to take your life you can call the emergency services as they have access to a psychiatric team.
C.A.L.M - Campaign Against Living Miserably
They have helpline, front line support staff and communities for anyone who needs to talk about life's problems they also have a detailed page on what to do if you are worried about someone - https://www.thecalmzone.net/help/worried-about-someone/
S.O.B.S - Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide
Working with the government department to raise awareness of all issues involved in suicide and suicide prevention and also providing support to survivors of bereavement of suicide please check out their website for more information.
One place where you gather information regarding being bereaved by suicide
Book in for a session, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org