Suicidal thoughts

12 February 2017.

Suicide is the act of intentionally ending your life [1].

If you’re reading this because you have, or have had, thoughts about taking your life, it’s important you ask someone for help. It’s probably difficult for you to see at this time, but you’re not alone and not beyond help.

Many people who’ve had suicidal thoughts say they were so overwhelmed by negative feelings they felt they had no other option. However, with support and treatment they were able to allow the negative feelings to pass.

Getting help:

If you are feeling suicidal, there are people you can talk to, who want to help:

  • speak to a friend, family member or someone you trust as they may be able to help you calm down and find some breathing space
  • call the Samaritans 24-hour support service on 116 123
  • go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department and tell the staff how you are feeling
  • contact NHS 111
  • make an urgent appointment to see your GP

Read more about getting help if you’re feeling suicidal.

If you’re worried someone is suicidal:

If you’re worried that someone you know may be considering suicide, try to encourage them to talk about how they are feeling. Listening is the best way to help. Try to avoid offering solutions and try not to judge.

If they’ve previously been diagnosed with a mental health condition, such as depression, you can speak to a member of their care team for help and advice. Read more about suicide warning signs and how you can help someone with suicidal thoughts.

Self-harm:

Many people who self-harm don’t want to kill themselves. Self-harming can be a kind of “survival strategy”, providing a person with a way of coping with overwhelming emotions.

However, self-harming is usually a sign that a person needs immediate help and support. Read about self-harm for more information and advice.

Suicide, self-harm and sex hormones:

The menstrual cycle, or hormonal medications, cannot directly cause suicidal thoughts, or self-harming behaviours, but research suggests that they can be a factor in contributing issues such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, or anger/irritability [2-4].

It is thought that low levels of oestrogen and/ or progesterone (just before or during menstruation) may increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts in people feeling anxious or depressed, although further studies are needed [5-6].


If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, the most important thing to do is to tell somebody else that this is happening to you.

  • Samaritans offer confidential support around the clock to anyone in the UK who wants to talk through their problems: http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/contact-us
  • If you live in another country, google search for your local support service. you are not alone. People are there to help you through this difficult time.


Page last reviewed and updated: June 2018


References:

1. NHS. (2015) Suicide. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Suicide/Pages/Introduction.aspx. [Accessed 8 October 2017]

2. Ducasse, D., Jaussent, I., Olié, E., Guillaume, S., Lopez-Castroman, J., & Courtet, P. (2016). Personality Traits of Suicidality Are Associated with Premenstrual Syndrome and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder in a Suicidal Women Sample. PLoS ONE11(2), e0148653. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0148653

3. Skovlund CW, Mørch LS, Kessing LV, Lidegaard Ø. (2016) Association of Hormonal Contraception With Depression. JAMA Psychiatry Nov 1;73(11):1154-1162. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.2387. PubMed PMID: 27680324

4. Gingnell M, Engman J, Frick A, Moby L, Wikström J, Fredrikson M, Sundström-Poromaa I. (2013) Oral contraceptive use changes brain activity and mood in women with previous negative affect on the pill–a double-blinded, placebo-controlled randomized trial of a levonorgestrel-containing combined oral contraceptive. Psychoneuroendocrinology Jul;38(7):1133-44. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2012.11.006. Epub 2012 Dec 6. PubMed PMID: 23219471

5. Sein Anand J, Chodorowski Z, Ciechanowicz R, Wiśniewski M, Pankiewicz P. (2005) The relationship between suicidal attempts and menstrual cycle in women. Przegl Lek 62(6):431-3. PubMed PMID: 16225087

6. Baca-Garcia E, Diaz-Sastre C, Ceverino A, Perez-Rodriguez MM, Navarro-Jimenez R, Lopez-Castroman J, Saiz-Ruiz J, de Leon J, Oquendo MA.  (2010) Suicide attempts among women during low estradiol/low progesterone states. J Psychiatr Res. Mar;44(4):209-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2009.08.004. Epub 2009 Sep 25. PubMed PMID: 19782376


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