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Suicide Recovery: Difficult but Doable

One day as he was driving, “Brian’s” suicidal thoughts became overwhelming. Something compelled him to pull his car over and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Today, “Brian” says he’s at peace and progressing in his recovery one day at a time. Like Brian, you can find ongoing help and support for yourself or someone you know who experiences suicidal thoughts or a suicide attempt. Recovery, while difficult, is possible.

Some people find help from medication, while others manage their mental health with counseling and learned coping skills. Others find volunteer work, support from family and friends, exercise, and support groups to be vital to their ongoing recovery and wellness.  

While everyone’s recovery will be different, here are some things that can help your recovery process:

  1. Seek help from professionals. You deserve to understand why you have suicidal thoughts and feelings. A therapist can help you determine the underlying issues, treat the issues, develop coping skills throughout the process, and perhaps most important, give you hope for a better life.
  2. Get support from others. Support groups can have a huge impact on your recovery. There’s comfort in knowing you are not alone and others struggle with similar feelings. A doctor or therapist can help you find the right support group for you.
  3. Talk to those you trust. When you’re ready, talk about your feelings and experience with those you know you can count on for support. Keep in mind they may not know what to say, and that’s OK. Let them know you just need them to listen and be there when you need them.
  4. Be good to yourself. You have an illness, like any health issue. Being down on yourself is not going to help your recovery. Engage with people who will help you stay positive. Give yourself time to heal.
  5. Stay physically healthy too. Your physical health will play a big part in your recovery. Exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep.  

How to Help Others

One of the main goals for identifying September as National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month as well as National Recovery Month is to encourage people who may be struggling with mental health issues to seek help and not be afraid to reach out to loved ones or professionals for support, says Core Recovery’s Founder Jillian Vanselow. But another goal is to raise awareness that each of us has the ability to help others struggling with mental health issues.

Here are ways we can help someone who is in suicidal crisis:

Listen. Studies show people with suicidal thoughts feel more hopeful when someone actively listens. Being a skilled listener helps people begin to move out of crisis towards recovery.

Be Supportive, Even in Relapse. Often when someone experiences a relapse or setback in their recovery, rather than receiving increased treatment or support, they are met with blame, frustration, even doubt. There can be setbacks during recovery. Your support and encouragement are more important than ever.

Don’t Judge. If someone you know is in recovery, be kind, understanding, and compassionate. Those suffering are often ashamed, embarrassed, and afraid because of the stigma and judgment around mental illness.

“When someone is suicidal, they typically get labeled as suicidal all the time,” says Vanselow. “However, there is a path to recovery. They can get better. There is hope!”

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