After a Suicide Attempt
Alone. Fragile. Angry. Ashamed. “Why am I here?” These are common feelings and thoughts people have in the aftermath of a nonfatal suicide attempt. As one suicide attempt survivor wrote, “I woke up alive, and now I get to put the pieces of my life back together.” The good news is that the majority of people who attempt suicide live through it, so you are not alone, and there are literally millions of people in your shoes who can be tremendous role models and supports.
The most important thing is to be patient with yourself and surround yourself with people and circumstances that provide healthy forms of support. In our resources section below, you will find great books, blogs, websites and more that can start you on your journey of recovery. Each step towards wellness is a step in the right direction. You deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion and you are stronger than you give yourself credit for – you can come back to life and “sustain a passion for living.”
1) If you don’t have a therapist or one that you like, visit our Suicide Prevention Therapist Finder and then interview your candidates until you feel like you’ve got a good fit. Questions to ask:
- Tell me about your training in suicide risk assessment, management and recovery? When was the last time you received continuing education training on these topics?
- What do you know about Wellness Recovery Action Planning or Dialectical Behavior Therapy or the Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicide (CAMS) approach (three forms of treatment known to help suicidal people)?
- How comfortable are you working with someone who has attempted to take their life?
- Why do you think people become suicidal? (see if their answer resonates with you)
- It would help me to understand your level of understanding on what it feels like to be suicidal. Have you ever been suicidal or made an attempt?
2) Develop a safety plan collaboratively with your therapist that includes a list of people you can call that would can count on to be there for you, some self-soothing and emotional regulation practices that work for you, and some benchmarks to know when you need to get more intense assistance. Know that the people who love you may not always know what the right thing to do or say; if you know what you need from them, tell them.
3) When exploring our resources, read the stories of hope and recovery of suicide attempt survivors who have gone before you. Their experiences of despair and their journey to healing might be the thing that inspires you and gives you hope more than anything else. Look for structured and well supervised suicide attempt survivor support groups in your area or find qualified and healthy peer support on line (again – a list can be found in our resource section).