Health Mental health Suicide How to stay safe if you're feeling suicidal If you’re in immediate danger and feel like you may hurt yourself, call 999 and ask for an ambulance. The emergency services will take you somewhere safe. It’s common for LGBTQ+ people to experience suicidal feelings more than once and some people have them regularly. In situations where you’re worried about acting on those thoughts and think you’re at risk, it can be helpful to know how to keep yourself safe. Recognising the signs Knowing the signs that you’ve begun to feel suicidal is important because it helps you to find help sooner and get the support you need. Everyone is different, but here are some key things to consider: Are your thoughts of suicide more regular, have the become more intense? Have you made any plans to end your life such as how and when? Are your symptoms familiar? Did you feel this way the last time you felt suicidal? Have you been using drink or drugs in order to cope? Has this become a problem? Are there particular events, people, or places you’ve been exposed to recently that may have triggered your thoughts? Remember, that the signs may look very different for each person. Just because you’re not experiencing all of the above doesn’t mean you’re not at risk. Making your immediate surroundings safer If you’ve recognised the signs and feel you’re at risk, then there are some basic steps you can follow to make your home environment safer: Remove any direct means of suicide from your home. Especially those that you’ve considered using in the past. Things like medications that you have in large quantities can be given to another person to look after, and then provided to you in smaller batches as you need them. Company in the form of a friend or chosen family member can make you feel less alone and provide comfort. They can also help you make your environment safer. Remove any alcohol and drugs from your home - these can inhibit your ability to think clearly and worsen your mental state. This includes everything from wine and beer to chemsex drugs like meth and GBH. Remove triggers from your schedule and home - if you’ve been in this position before and there are specific people, situations etc that make you feel worse, then avoid them, or try and stay away from them. For instance, if you’re trans try and ensure you’re in a gender-affirmative space. You can never make a home one hundred percent safe, but keeping a distance between yourself and means of suicide or triggers can reduce risk. Easing your symptoms It can be extremely hard to lift your mood depending on your levels of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Sometimes it feels like nothing will make you feel ‘good’ but in these cases, distraction can be enough. When your mental state feels unmanageable - this can include extreme agitation, depression or feeling confused or disoriented - then engaging with activities and people which you have enjoyed in the past can keep you occupied. If you love making art, then pick up a pencil, or do some gentle crafts - whatever interests you. TV can be a great distraction as it allows you to focus on something outside of yourself for however long you need. Watch shows that have brought you comfort, hope, or inspiration. The same goes for videogames, books, or podcasts. Walking outdoors can help relieve nervous energy and release some endorphins, as well as provide an opportunity to connect with the outside world or meet up with a friend. If only as a distraction, walking to a specific location and back can keep you occupied. Exercise is an ambitious goal for most people who are experiencing intense suicidal feelings. However, a little activity, however short, and wherever you do it, is another way to keep yourself occupied. Talking with friends and family is another way to keep yourself busy, and it can reduce suicidal feelings to talk openly with another person. If you don’t have someone in your life you feel you can talk to, then there are listening services like Switchboard and Samaritans who can be that person for you, whenever you need them. If you haven’t been in this situation before and you’re not sure what works for you then try some of the above, or whatever you think may keep you buys, Challenging suicidal thoughts When you’re experiencing intense suicidal thoughts it can help to challenge them. You matter - You might be thinking things like “I don’t deserve to be here any more” or “the world would be better off without me”, but these are not factual or true. Intrusive thoughts pass, and things get better. Everyone has value, no matter who they are. Focus on getting through each moment - you may be in considerable pain, but all you need to do is get through the next minute, the next hour, the next day. It doesn’t have to be any more complex than that. Every moment that passes you’re succeeding: you’re still here and you can get through it. Try not to linger on thoughts and worries about the future. Agree to yourself not to act now - there are always options beside taking your own life. It might not feel like it right now, but that’s because you’re probably in distress and not thinking clearly. If you decide not to act on your feelings today, you’ll have another chance to find one of those options tomorrow. You don’t have to do it alone, other people can help you find help. Remind yourself of what brings you joy - put pen to paper and write down the people, activities, goals, dreams, and even small things that make life worth living. Focusing on people who you love and value you can be very grounding. Pitch thoughts against reality - Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left side, write down the negative thoughts that are running through your head. On the other side, think about what a friend or relative would say in response to those thoughts and how the situation might seem to them. For instance, you might write on one side “I’m worthless” and on the other side “I have wonderful friends / I’m a great dancer / I look after my pets”. Going to a safe place If for whatever reason you don’t feel you’re able to stay safe where you are, then it’s best to go somewhere else like: A friend’s house An LGBTQ+ community space A family member’s house Your local crisis centre The nearest hospital You should choose whichever place feels right for you at the time, depending on how at risk you feel. If you’re in extreme distress it’s recommended to go to your nearest A&E or call 999 and ask for an ambulance. Following a safety plan Safety plans are a great way of reminding ourselves that when things feel dire, we still have lots of options. By preparing a safety plan beforehand, you can remind yourself of people, places, and actions that make you feel better, and calming thoughts that you can repeat to yourself. You can also list the services you can access, like Samaritans, your GP, emergency services, Switchboard, LGBTQ+ groups, or a counsellor. For information on what a safety plan is, check out our fact sheet. What Next In addition to the advice above you can access support through different organisations in which they understand LGTBQ+ people and the issues we face. Switchboard 0300 330 0630 — the longest-running helpline for LGBTQ+ people that provides support through phone, email ([email protected]) and instant messaging. LGBT Foundation 0345 3 30 30 30 — LGBT Foundation is based in Manchester but offers country-wide support to LGBTQ+ people through its helpline. Mindline Trans + 0300 330 5468 — Emotional and mental health support helpline for anyone identifying as transgender, non-binary, genderfluid. They also support family members, friends, colleagues and carers.