Helping yourself now

What can I do to cope right now?

Note: this page offers practical tips on what you can do right now to help yourself cope with suicidal feelings. If you do not feel able to keep yourself safe right now, call 999 or go to Accident & Emergency of your local hospital authority.

You might be feeling so upset, angry and in pain that you believe that these feelings will never end. However, it is important to remember that these feelings cannot and will not last forever; they will pass.

These are steps you can take right now to stop yourself from acting on your suicidal thoughts. It is important to remember that everyone is different, so it is about finding what works best for you. Here are some practical tips that other people have found helpful when they previously felt suicidal:

Get safe right now

  • Get through the next 5 minutes. Taking things minute by minute can help make things more bearable; reward yourself for each 5 minutes that pass
  • Remove anything you could use to harm yourself, or ask someone else to remove these for you; if you are in an unsafe location, move away
  • If you have a safety plan or crisis plan, follow it
  • Tell someone how you are feeling. Whether it is a friend, family member or even a pet, telling someone else how you are feeling may help you to feel less alone and more in control

Distract yourself

  • If you’re thinking of harming yourself, find self-harm coping techniques that work for you, such as holding an ice cube in your hand until it melts, tearing something up, take a very cold shower or bath, etc.
  • Focus on your senses. Focusing on what you can smell, taste, touch, hear and see may help to ground your thoughts
  • Steady your breathing. Take long deep breaths; breathing out for longer than you breathe in may help you to feel calmer
  • Look after your needs. Drink a glass of water, or eat something if you are hungry
  • Avoid taking drugs or drinking alcohol as this may make you feel worse
  • Get outside. If you are feeling numb, feeling the rain, sun or wind against your skin may help you to feel more connected to your body.
  • Reach out. If you cannot talk to someone you know, contact a telephone support service or use online peer support (see ‘Useful contacts’)

Challenge your thoughts

  • Find your reasons to live. You could do so by writing a list of things that you’re looking forward to, making plans to do something you enjoy the next day, or thinking about the people you love
  • Be kind to yourself. It could be by having a bath, wrapping yourself in a blanket, or watching your favourite film. These ideas may seem silly but doing something nice for yourself may improve your mood and temporarily alleviate your suicidal thoughts
  • Tell yourself you can get through this. At times, we may concentrate on the negatives we tell ourselves and lose hope. Repeating to yourself that you may get past these feelings may help you regain hope and focus on getting through it

What help is available?

Speaking to your family doctor

Many patients ask their family doctor for help with emotional difficulties and they will be used to listening to these types of problems. Your family doctor can then discuss treatment options with you, and refer you on for further treatment if this is something you need.

Talking treatments

Talking treatments, including counselling and psychotherapy, can help you make sense of your feelings and explore ways to deal with what you are going through. The aim is to help you find your own solutions, rather than giving you advice or telling you what to do. Many people find that talking to a person who is trained to listen can help release tension, and also help them view their difficulties in a different way. This can make it easier to see new options and solutions.

Many voluntary organisations, including Samaritans, provide free emotional support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Samaritans listen without judgment and with total confidence.

If you can afford it, you may choose to see a therapist privately. Private therapists should be appropriately trained and registered and/or accredited. Recommendations from a professional or a friend can also be helpful.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) looks at how you can change any negative patterns of thinking or behaviour that may be causing you difficulties, and can change the way you feel. CBT tends to be short, taking six weeks to six months. More long-term talking therapies include psychodynamic psychotherapy and mindfulness-based psychotherapy.

Medication

Your family doctor may suggest that you take medication for your depression e.g. antidepressants, or medication for your anxiety, such as tranquillisers. Before you are prescribed any medication, your doctor should explain to you what the medication is for and discuss any possible side effects and alternative treatments.

Hospital services

Your local hospital may be the best place to go in a crisis. Some may offer you medication and discuss with you what kind of help you want. Some may also suggest that you are admitted to the hospital.

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