Having suicidal thoughts? Let’s talk about it…

For some men, experiencing feelings of depression and anxiety, it can feel like the only option is to cope alone; tough it out and bottle it all up.

They don’t ever experience the relief of the hundreds of little conversations that others might have when they “let off steam” with friends or family. All it takes is for one additional situation to add to the load, or simply the sum of the relentless and seemingly endless pressures of life, and this pent-up burden becomes too much to bear.

It’s at times like these that individuals can begin to have suicidal thoughts and become at risk of acting on them.

A man worried about his suicidal thinking can feel depressed, anxious, hopeless and isolated from those closest to them. At this crisis point feelings of guilt and shame around asking for help and admitting they are not coping, or anxieties about stirring things up can often get in the way of being able to access support from those around them. The thought of going to talk to a mental health professional can feel exposing and frightening with a fear that it might be an admission of failure, open problems up, leave them feeling worse, or just not what “men” do.

The figures

The latest suicide figures show almost eight Australians take their own life every day. That’s 2,864 lives lost to suicide every year. Five of the daily suicides will be men. Over three quarters of suicides in Australia are men. For men aged under 44 it’s the leading cause of death in this country. More Australian men died from suicide in 2014 than road accidents.

On top of these tragic numbers around 190 people will attempt suicide today and another 250 will make a plan to do it.

Male coping strategies

It is widely understood that men can find it difficult to ask for help when they are in crisis. You may have found yourself avoiding talking about your emotional issues. You may have felt more physically tired and exhausted than usual. You may also have noticed suffering from chronic physical issues like backache, digestive problems, sleep problems or muscle aches and pains that don’t respond to treatment.

Research indicates men can turn to coping strategies such as drinking, drug use or other risk taking behaviours when feeling anxious or depressed. You may have found that you cannot cope with your low mood, stress and suicidal thinking bottled up inside. This may have left you feeling more irritable with mood swings and even aggressive behaviour that is out of character for you. All of these behaviours can be an attempt to keep emotional troubles and perceived problems at bay or under control. Over time these coping strategies can impact heavily on your health, life and relationships increasing your feelings of anxiety, depression and isolation.

You may be struggling with suicidal thinking and do not wish to act on your thoughts yet do not feel able, or know how to ask for help at this critical point. Added to this those closest to someone coping with depression or suicidal thinking can be fearful of adding to the burden by talking about their concerns. The stigma attached to suicide adds to the anxiety around how to handle such a conversation and it can be avoided or put off.

Talking about it does help

In my experience most people feel significantly better after talking about their suicidal thinking. You can find great relief in talking openly and honestly about your suicidal thinking to a non-judgemental person willing to face this issue with you. Your issues and concerns are shared and jointly thought about and plans can be put into place to help reduce risk in the future.

Research indicates accessing help from a mental health professional, or related services, does help reduce the risk of acting on your suicidal thoughts. Countries offering specific community services, including therapeutic treatment, for people at risk of suicide have seen a significant drop in their suicide rate.

Positive support and professional help

When you are consumed by your negative thoughts and worries they can exhaust you and understandably you can reach a point of overwhelm. Research has found physical activities or meeting up socially can help bring some respite from your worries and concerns. Any kind of physical activity can provide an immediate sense of achievement and an endorphin boost. If possible go out and meet your mates, or plan an activity such as camping or fishing, or do some team based sport that gets you mixing socially.

If you are concerned about someone close to you pop round to see them for a chat and a catch up. For those offering support keep persisting even if they feel hard to reach. A consistent, supportive presence is usually noticed and can make a positive impression on someone coping with depression or suicidal thinking.

In my counselling work I have found talking about suicidal thinking can help alleviate, or reduce the impact of thoughts and ideas that may have felt overwhelming and unbearable. This brings great relief and can open a broader discussion of the issues you face. Counselling can help you find the words or language for talking about your distress and feelings. In talking about feelings and the people in your life, you can develop communication skills and learn how to better cope with difficulty as it arises in your relationships. The more insight and understanding you develop into your issues the greater chance you have for making positive change happen in your life.

The most useful thing to remember is that talking to someone about suicidal thinking is likely to provide great relief. It isn’t a downer that makes you feel worse and sharing your suicidal thinking with family members, friends or professionals enables other people to get involved and offer help and support when it’s needed.

Need to talk to someone right now?

National 24/7 crisis phone services include Lifeline 13 11 14, Suicide Callback Service 1300 659 467. Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800. Or visit lifeline website for help: www.lifeline.org.au/gethelp.


Mark Tonkinson



Category : Bullying & Counselling and Coaching Myths & Men's Coaching and Counselling & Stress Reduction & Uncategorized

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