Adventures in Psychiatry: Suicide

This post carries a trigger warning. Please stay safe. 

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. This is a difficult subject, but it needs to be talked about. Suicide is all too frequent, crisis prevention care in the NHS is a catastrophe and those of us with mental illness are left to fend for ourselves. Yes, suicide can be prevented by encouraging the discussion around mental health and normalising the phrase "I'm not ok" and talking it out with friends or family, but that's only half the problem. The general public is not equipped to talk someone down from suicide without some serious ill effects to their own mental well-being. We need trained professionals to help. We need a healthcare system equipped to manage an individual intent on ending their life. 

I have my own experience with suicide attempt(s) and it baffles me I'm still alive, especially after my last attempt in 2012. I was heavily addicted to benzodiazepines and alcohol, severely depressed and could feel my body giving up. I felt like a waste of space and terribly guilty for even breathing. To cut a long story short, I woke up in the High Dependency Unit following respiratory arrest and lapsing into a coma. Three days later - after going against medical advice and leaving the HDU - I was almost sectioned and taken to the local psychiatric ward. That was when I realised that people do care if I breathe or not.

Unfortunately, I have lost many friends to suicide and experienced the sheer panic of sending out police to homes and general areas and have them sat with me while until the search was completed while I sat and trembled with utter helplessness. There comes a point where you've done all you can and you hand it over and are just left waiting, praying, hoping, begging... but how do we prevent it coming to this point? What can we do if we or someone we know is feeling like this?

1. Be aware of the signs: hopelessness, anger, recklessness, talking about death, stockpiling tablets, self-harming, poor sleep (a complete list by the NHS can be found here
2. Talking in a "judgement free zone". This will allow your friend or family member to try and talk about their thoughts and emotions without the fear of reactions or consequences. 
3. Seek support: The Samaritans, Mind or Rethink are excellent resources
4: Go. To. Your. GP or psychiatrist if you have one. Be honest about why you're making the appointment and you won't have to wait. 
5. Don't seek out a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Play the tomorrow game. Whatever you are feeling will pass, and there are people around you willing to help. You won't be a burden. You won't cause them harm by talking about how you're feeling. 

That's just my two cents on a painful subject. Keep safe, keep talking. Keep breathing. 

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