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What is it?
Fleeting suicidal thoughts and feelings are relatively common. Many people may momentarily contemplate wanting to end their life during periods of extreme stress. However, very few people will act on these thoughts and for most individuals, they are transitory and last only for a very short time.
However for some people, contemplating suicide is more prolonged and distressing. These feelings may occur more and more often, and can become very persistent and distressing.
Suicidal thoughts are most commonly associated with an underlying physical or psychological problem, such as severe and chronic pain or depression. In most situations, there is a range of warning signs that are likely to point to an increased risk of suicide.
It is important to confide in others if such feelings arise. The underlying causes can almost always be successfully explored and treated and full recovery is usually possible.
How do we know it's happening?
Suicidal thoughts are most frequently associated with one of the common mental illnesses, most usually depression.
Such thoughts can be extremely frightening. Many people describe how these thoughts became overwhelming, often accompanied by other strong emotions such as feelings of intense loneliness or isolation, shame, guilt, regret and failure.
Sufferers often think that other people in their life would be better-off without them, and convince themselves that if only they were to die, then all the pain and suffering they are feeling, plus the distress they are causing to other people, would be sorted.
However even when someone has been thinking about suicide for quite some time, these feelings can come and go. There is often a mixture of thoughts going round in the person's head on the one hand thinking about what steps they could take to end their life, and then on the other hand, not really caring whether they live or die.
What we offer
Confiding in others is probably the single most important thing to do. The person themselves, or anyone close to them can tell us about it. All our staff are trained to spot potential early warning signs.
We will always take these things seriously and will want to talk to the person to understand why it is that they may be feeling this way. We will work closely with them to try to positively resolve whatever problems there may be and we will diagnose any serious mental illness and will treat that. Usually the treatments are based on psychological therapies of one sort or another sometimes in association with a prescription of medication.
On a larger scale we take suicide prevention seriously and work collaboratively with other health agencies and public health specialists and research teams to find ways of reducing risks of suicide throughout the population. Our current suicide prevention strategy provides details of the strategic focus for our work in this area between now and the end of 2024. If you would like more information about this work, or have any questions, please contact us via our feedback form. Your comments will be passed on to the correct department who can help you.
You can watch a video, produced by The Samaritans, of people describing their experiences of feeling suicidal, and what helped them.
AWP Zero Suicide ambition
Please check out this page for more information on our Zero Suicide Ambition.