Researchers estimate twenty-five percent to sixty percent of people with bipolar disorder will attempt suicide at least once in their lives. Between four and nineteen percent will complete suicide resulting in death. A suicide attempt is a life changing event.
In my life story, the act of attempting suicide is fuzzy, but now I know how I felt afterward – shock. How long had some dark part of my brain been plotting suicide? What was it about myself that I hated so much I wanted to be dead? I struggled with this and my faith not understanding why I would do something like that. But I have learned it is part of my bipolar disorder illness. I can also look back and see perhaps why I thought suicide was the only answer. It all makes me terribly sad.
Here are six things, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, that you can do after attempting suicide.
- BE KIND TO YOURSELF
You have survived a life-threatening situation. Take all the time you need to heal. There is no set time for your healing to stop.
- TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Like you should always do while living with mental illness, there are some fundamentals for living well. These things include setting a healthy sleep schedule and sticking to it, exercise and eat right. It is important to surround yourself with uplifting people.
- TAKE CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
You should contact your mental health providers and get an appointment. With your therapist, you can come up with a safety plan and identify stressors in your life. To find a mental health professional in your area, visit findtreatment.samhsa.gov.
- TRY GROUP THERAPY OR A SUPPORT GROUP
There a lot of support groups available to help you not only this strange time after a suicide attempt. but on a regular basis. Support groups for anxiety, depression, addictions and bipolar disorder and other mental health concerns exist. These groups can help you heal and feel less alone. Visit afsp.org/AfterAnAttempt for more information.
- TALK TO PEOPLE YOU TRUST
When you are ready talk to someone you trust. This can be anyone – your best friend, a family member, a leader of your faith-based group, or your therapist, for example. Share what happened. Ask them to help you stay safe and heal.
- JOIN THE AFSP COMMUNITY
There are many ways to do this. You may visit their website, attend a walk, go to a community presentation or join a volunteer group. By joining the AFSP community you will be connected with people who understand the complexity of suicide and want to help prevent it. Visit afsp.org/chapters.
An important component to recovery is creating a safety plan, just in case you ever find yourself considering a suicide attempt again.
- RECOGNIZE your warning signs.
- EMPLOY healthy coping strategies that can be done by yourself.
- ENGAGE with people and go to places that help take your mind off your problems.
- REACH OUT to family or friends that can help you in a crisis.
- CALL the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8225)
- VISIT afsp.org/safety for more information on creating a safety plan.
The aftermath of a suicide attempt is a jarring experience. For some of us, we may come close to completing our plan. When I am doing well and look back on my attempts, it is hard to believe I ever felt so desparate, but mental illness will lie to you. Be on guard and remember, you are needed on this Earth. Things really do get better.